As the #ProudBoys tag on Twitter got flooded with images of gay couples and individuals, the Proud Boys responded to claims that they’re homophobic.

Set up in 2016 by VICE Media co-founder Gavin McInnes, Proud Boys are an all-male organisation, who have branded themselves as a “western values” group and call themselves “Western Chauvinists”.

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The group’s ethos is “anti-political correctness” and “anti-white guilt”, and they claim they are neither a hate group nor alt-right. The Southern Poverty Law Centre however regards them as both.

The Proud Boys formed in the midst of the previous presidential election and regularly attend Trump rallies, reportedly while armed a lot of the time. They also host their own rallies, where armed members march for their cause.

What was the #ProudBoys hashtag takeover all about?

To take it back to its beginnings, the Twitter take over of the #ProudBoys tag started when LBGT rights activist George Takei proposed they flood the tag with images on October 1st.

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He tweeted: “I wonder if the BTS and TikTok kids can help LGBTs with this. What if gay guys took pictures of themselves making out with each other or doing very gay things, then tagged themselves with #ProudBoys. I bet it would mess them up real bad. #reclaiming my shine”.

That’s exactly what happened. In the following days the tag was filled with images of gay men, couples, and parents. If you didn’t know about the Proud Boys group you’d have no idea it was their tag when you clicked on it.

Are the Proud Boys homophobic?

In response to the twitter activism, chairman of the group Enrique Tarrio denied any links between the Proud Boys and homophobia, reports CNN: “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.”

Other twitter users also felt the tag was redundant, as they say the Proud Boy’s message is mainly anti-Islamic and misogynistic over homophobic. One user tweeted, “But some of those white gays are also a part of the proud boys. This is dumb.”