DALLAS (NEXSTAR) — The hashtag #ProudBoys, regularly used by a far-right group mentioned in Tuesday’s presidential debate, was taken over this weekend by gay men celebrating their relationships.
When President Donald Trump was questioned about white supremacists and the Proud Boys during the Cleveland event, Trump told the group to “stand back and stand by.” He clarified that statement Wednesday telling the group to stand down.
The Proud Boys became a trending topic on social media in the days that followed as they celebrated the president’s comments at the debate, with more than 5,000 of the group’s members posting “Stand Back” and “Stand By” above and below the group’s logo.
But all that changed when gay men hijacked the hashtag over the weekend.
Matt Dechaine, one of the men who initially contributed to the hashtag, told CNN his goal was to spread joy instead of divisiveness.
“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,” Dechaine, who is from England, told CNN. “By coming together rooted in respect and love for each other, the world can be so much better.”
While the vast majority of posts were made by typical gay couples, some celebrities joined in by posting on Twitter throughout the weekend.
“Brad and I are #ProudBoys, legally married for 12 years now,” wrote actor and activist George Takei. “And 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.”
Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the Proud Boys, told CNN he doesn’t understand what the posts are seeking to accomplish.
“I think it’s hysterical. This isn’t something that’s offensive to us. It’s not an insult,” said Tarrio. “We aren’t homophobic. We don’t care who people sleep with. People think it’s going to bother us. It doesn’t.”