MSNBC host Rachel Maddow stunned Lawrence O’Donnell during the toss from her show to his when she commented that the far-right neo-fascist group Proud Boys are “really gay.” The group only admits male members.
The similar paramilitary organization Oathkeepers also shows a similar unintentional campy undercurrent, Maddow said, comparing them to groups that fought for same-sex marriage rights.
The groups’ names have a queer connotation, she said, reminding her of the Lesbian Avengers, a direct-action group that had dozens of chapters across the nation at one point.
In late 2020, the hashtag #ProudBoys was hijacked on social media by gay couples posting photos of themselves kissing.
“I always have found them to be inadvertently funny, those names,” she quipped. “They both sound like they’re referring to gay stuff.”
“They have such a poorly derived sense of camp and understanding about American subcultural text that they both ended up naming themselves something that could have been a 90s affinity group of, like, the Lesbian Avengers.”
“And so,” she continued, “I’ve always felt like they were kinda playing themselves.”
She laughed and added, “But I’m probably in the minority on that.”
“Yeah….” O’Donnell replied, before stumbling through a short response.
“Feel free to call them the Lesbian Avengers instead if you want!” Maddow chirped as she went off-screen.
“Alright,” O’Donnell laughed. “We’ll try that.”
The Proud Boys are a far-right men-only violent organization founded by Gavin McInnis and named after a song that was cut from the Disney film Aladdin. McInnis has defended the use of the slur “faggot” in connection with assaults, calling the term “handy,” and saying, “It’s very rarely used against gays.”
After Donald Trump lost the presidential election, the group staged one of the queerest protests in Washington, D.C. when members decided to make a point. They didn’t make the one they intended, however.
Wearing yellow and black kilts designed and produced by a gay man, a line of men formed up and flashed their butts to onlookers. Written in marker on their cheeks was “Fuck Antifa.” Because nothing says “straight and manly” like using a marker to scrawl a message about sex on your buddy’s ass cheek.
But after images of the white nationalists flashing their goods went viral, Verillas, the company that makes the kilts, quickly denounced the group and announced they were yanking the product from sale.
“Disgusted to see members of ‘Proud Boys,’ a fascist terrorist wearing our products,” the brand tweeted. “We’re LGBTQIA+ owned, operated, designed, and lived. We’re against everything they stand for. I see $750 of our gear in the picture — I just gave $1,000 to the NAACP to redirect hate to love.”