Sure, Texas is a red state. But the merger of MAGA and anti-LGBTQ activism has revealed a whole new level of ugly:
As local progressive activists and UNT students have documented in numerous videos and photographs, anti-LGBTQ events and protests hosted by Neidert and her allies have drawn Proud Boys on multiple occasions. On June 12, Neidert, Whitt and local far-right media activist Tayler Hansen — who is best known for filming inside the Capitol on Jan. 6 when Ashli Babbitt was shot, but now specializes in surreptitious videos shot inside drag shows — showed up in Arlington, Texas, to protest an adults-only drag queen brunch. In videos later shared on Twitter, a line of masked Proud Boys arrived at the protest, shaking hands with Neidert and her group before blocking counter-protesters on the sidewalk and threatening one with “citizen’s arrest” for being “a pedophile.” (In 2020, the Tribune reported, Whitt defended the Proud Boys on social media as being “an ‘amazing’ group of men.”)
“These people are all connected, they all know each other, they coordinate with each other and show up to events as groups,” said Steven Monacelli, an investigative reporter in the DFW area who wrote about Neidert’s UNT antics for the Daily Beast this spring. As Monacelli and coauthor Jack Whitley reported, Neidert hosted a Texas legislature candidate who is campaigning on banning gender-affirming care for minors after losing custody of his own trans child, and Neidert has received public offers of legal assistance from former Proud Boys lawyer Jason Lee Van Dyke, who now represents a Patriot Front member arrested in Idaho.
“There’s a whole category of social media personality that has emerged across the country,” Monacelli said: online influencers who leverage local confrontations into viral content, that content into conservative stardom, and that stardom into institutional backing. “But in Dallas, we’ve got this critical mass of them.”