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Hate group’s embarrassing online fail

An infamous violent, far-right group has found its social media presence taken over by pictures of loved-up gay men. The commandeering of the #proudboys hashtag has meant that where there were once images of MAGA capped white men holding the guns and waving anti Black Lives Matter placards, now it’s rainbow flags, blokes holding hands…

An infamous violent, far-right group has found its social media presence taken over by pictures of loved-up gay men.

The commandeering of the #proudboys hashtag has meant that where there were once images of MAGA capped white men holding the guns and waving anti Black Lives Matter placards, now it’s rainbow flags, blokes holding hands and same-sex weddings.

But the leader of the Proud Boys has tried to shake it off, calling the online takeover “hysterical”.

The Proud Boys has reared its head once again after US President Donald Trump declined to call out the group during the first presidential debate.

When asked by Democratic candidate Joe Biden to condemn the Proud Boys, Mr Trump, rather puzzlingly, said “stand back and stand by”.

Some members of the group then took that as an endorsement, using social media to say they were “standing by, sir”.

The group was established amid the 2016 presidential election by VICE Media co-founder Gavin McInnes, who told the New York Times at the time: “I love being white and I think it’s something to be very proud of”.

The Anti-Defamation League, which researches extremist groups, says the Proud Boys is bound by extreme male chauvinism, opposition to immigrants and Muslims, with some members also embracing white supremacy.

Some supporters see themselves as a militia in waiting, ready to illegally take the law into their own hands particularly for Mr Trump.

RELATED: Proud Boys: The militant far-right group backing Donald Trump

PROUD BOYS GOES GAY

However, the group’s image of toxic masculinity has taken a bettering on social media overnight. Search for #proudboys now and you’re far more likely to turn up images of very proud gay men holding hands, smooching and saying their vows.

“Look at these cute lil #ProudBoys,” Bobby Berk, a host of the popular Netflix show Queer Eye, wrote on Sunday, alongside a photo with his husband.

“Retweet and make this hashtag about love, not hate.”

Star Trek actor and activist George Takei tweeted a picture of him and his husband Brad who have been, married for 12 years.

“We’re proud of all of the gay folks who have stepped up to reclaim our pride in this campaign. Our community and allies answered hate with love, and what could be better than that,” he wrote.

Matt Dechaine, from the UK, who posted photos of himself and his partner, said seeing the hashtag usually reserved for gun toting men overrun with happy homosexuals was “uplifting”.

“It feels like the movement for positive change for all is gathering momentum all the time and I’m glad to be a small part of it.”

Even the Canadian military got in on the trend. The account for Canadian forces based in the US tweeted an image of Master Corporal Brent Kenny embracing his partner upon his return from service in 2016.

In a follow up tweet the Canadian Defence Force wrote “If you wear our uniform, know what it means.”

PROUD BOYS’ RESPOND

The Proud Boys themselves have tried to shrug off the takeover. Enrique Tarro, the group’s leader, was dismissive of the fuss.

“I think it’s hysterical. 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,” he told CNN.

Mr Biden jumped on the President’s failure to criticise the Proud Boys following the televised debate.

The President of the United States conducted himself the way he did – I think it was a national embarrassment,” Mr Biden said.

“My message to the Proud Boys and every other white supremacist group is: cease and desist.

“That’s not who we are. This is not who we are as Americans.”

TRUMP CALLS ON PROUD BOYS TO ‘STAND DOWN’

In an apparent attempt to tamp down outrage over his comments, Mr Trump later called on the group to “stand down”.

“I don’t know who Proud Boys are but whoever they are they have to stand down,” he told reporters at the White House after the debate.

“Stand down, let law enforcement do their work,” he said. “Whoever they are, stand down.”

The male-only group take an oath to being a “proud western chauvinist” and have become known for their violent confrontations with anti-fascist groups.

While they are mostly based in the US, they also have a presence in Australia, the UK and Canada.

The Southern Poverty Law Centre has designated the Proud Boys a hate group, with their ideology as being “general hate”.

The group’s name is believed to come from the song Proud of Your Boy, written by lyricist Howard Ashman and composer Alan Menken, which features in the musical adaptation of Aladdin.

The group is opposed to the drug war, racial guilt, political correctness, closed borders and “venerating the housewife”.

To become a member, someone has to declare: “I am a western chauvinist, and I refuse to apologise for creating the modern world.”

The next level of membership involves a Proud Boy being beaten until they can yell out the names of five breakfast cereals, to demonstrate “adrenaline control”. They must also give up masturbation because members believe it will leave them more inclined to go out and meet women.

Those who achieve the third degree of membership get a Proud Boys tattoo.

The organisation says any man, regardless of his race or sexual orientation, can join the group as long as they “recognise that white men are not the problem”.

Members regularly take part in street brawls and punch-ups with groups including Antifa and Black Lives Matter.

Last year, two members were jailed for four years for beating up anti-fascist activists outside a Republican venue in New York after a speech by Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes.

The Proud Boys were also linked to the fatal Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017.

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