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Analysis | The Proud Boys continue to show up at anti-LGBTQ events


In the months before the U.S. Capitol riot on January 6, 2021, researchers at the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project noted that the extremist group Proud Boys had become more closely intertwined with Donald Trump’s re-election bid. Members of the group had increasingly appeared at rallies explicitly focused on Trump’s re-election and, post-election, on decrying his election loss. Subsequently, of course, members of the groups were prominently involved in the riot itself, leading to accusations of inflammatory conspiracy.

Since then, the group has not been completely silent. On Monday, ACLED shared data on a new nexus of Proud Boys activities: protests and events focused on LGBTQ issues.

For example, Proud Boys have appeared at drag shows in several states and served as protesters at events aimed at showing support for the gay community. Sometimes those appearances have turned into violence.

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ACLED shares its data publicly, including robust documentation on when and how events are included in its database. That allows us to see the progression of the Proud Boys’ involvement in LGBTQ-related activities since President Biden’s inauguration — and the national scope of the activity.

In the first quarter of 2021, after January 20, ACLED tracked Proud Boys involvement in 20 events or protests. Only three were related to LGBTQ issues. As LGBTQ-related issues became a talking point in right-wing political circles (such as with the passage of a law restricting discussion of same-sex relationships in Florida schools earlier this year), Proud Boy’s involvement in events with that focus increased . In the second quarter of this year, a third of the group’s 40 performances focused on LGBTQ issues. In the third quarter, with the midterms approaching, more than half did.

Of course, every American has the right to protest peacefully, although the performances of the Proud Boys don’t always fall into that category. If anything, the group’s involvement in anti-LGBTQ activities serves as a thermometer for where the political right is exerting pressure.

At worst, the presence of the extremist group foreshadows the risk or threat of violence. That is mainly with regard to data the deadly shooting last weekend at a Colorado LGBTQ club.

The Club Q shooting follows a year of bomb threats, drag protests, anti-trans bills

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