During the first US Presidential Debate, President Donald Trump refused to condemn white supremacists (is anyone even surprised?) and instead gave the spotlight to a far-right group called the Proud Boys and asked them to “stand back and stand by”.

However, this is the age of social media and while it can be used as a weapon of hate, it can be also be used as a tool for love. Soon, LGBTQIA+ Twitter users began flooding the micro-blogging site with images and messages of love and pride, successfully hijacking the #ProudBoys hashtag.

 

“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. #ReclaimingMyShine,” wrote Star Trek star and activist George Takei on Twitter.

 

What followed was an initiative that went viral with thousands of people – even the Canadian armed forces – posting under the hashtag.

“Brad and I are #ProudBoys, legally married for 12 years now. 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.” Takei wrote alongside a picture of himself and his husband.

The Canadian armed forces in the US tweeted a picture of a serviceman kissing his partner with the message: “If you wear our uniform, know what it means. If you’re thinking about wearing our uniform, know what it means. Love is love. Know what we mean?”