Following last week’s presidential debate, Twitter users were livid when Donald Trump told Proud Boys, a white supremacist group, to “stand back and stand by.”
Shortly after Trump couldn't find the words to condemn white supremacy, the hashtag #ProudBoys started trending with most liberals expressing deep aggravation at the notion that a sitting president had passed on openly condoning a known hate group.
Queer men, however, had the last laugh.
People across the country swooped in to change the narrative by using the #ProudBoys hashtag to promote heartwarming images of gay men in love while others used it to promote queer visibility in other areas.
It's unclear where the takeover idea came from, but it might have started with a tweet from actor George Takei. Check out some of our favorites below:
While the intention of the tweets were meant to deflect from giving the Proud Boys a platform of any kind on Twitter, its leader, Enrique Tarrio, who also leads the grassroots group Latinos for Trump, told CNN that the reclaiming of the hashtag does nothing to stifle their voice.
"I think it's hysterical," Tarrio said. "This isn't something that's offensive to us. It's not an insult. We aren't homophobic. We don't care who people sleep with. People think it's going to bother us. It doesn’t,” adding, "One of the messages they want to send with this is that they're trying to drown out our supporters, they're trying to silence us. ... When you're trying to drown out other people's thoughts, I don't think there's anything progressive about that. Why don't these people just engage?"
Still, Tarrio's statement contradict hateful messages posted by some Proud Boys on the app Parler, a two-year-old social media app used widely by conservatives.
According to Forbes, Tarrio said in a Parler post that liberals were trying to turn the group’s name into “a slur” and that the queer men using the hashtag #proudboys was an attempt “to drown out the voices of our supporters.”
“ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?????” user @Tanamir replied to the screenshot of an image of two male Canadian military men kissing.
Another user reportedly wrote, “Fags," adding, "Can’t stand gay people...should be illegal.”
One Parler user reportedly created a meme of Takei holding up the OK sign, a gesture white supremacists use to identify themselves to each other, as an attempt to use his image to reclaim their agenda.
The Proud Boys have no real presence on Twitter anymore after the platform suspended them for violating their policy against “violent extremist groups" in 2018, meaning that the hashtag wasn't really being used prior to the last few days.
The Anti-Defamation League considers Proud Boys a violent, nationalistic, Islamophobic, transphobic and misogynistic hate group. Prominent members marched have recently organized against Black Lives Matter protests.