Exclusive: Self-described "Christian fascist" movement is trying to sabotage LGBTQ Pride Month

Last weekend's vicious episode in Dallas wasn't isolated — it was part of a coordinated far-right assault

Published June 9, 2022 6:00AM (EDT)

Empty drinks cover a bar table during Gay Pride celebrations (Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images)
Empty drinks cover a bar table during Gay Pride celebrations (Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images)

On Saturday morning in the Dallas "gayborhood" of Cedar Springs, an LGBTQ bar called Mr. Misster hosted a family-friendly "drag queen brunch" advertised with the tongue-in-cheek slogan, "Drag Your Kids to Pride." The event was intended to be light-hearted, featuring musical chairs, mocktails and a chance for kids to vogue alongside the performers. 

But before the doors had even opened, the whole thing turned ugly, as dozens of right-wing protesters showed up on the sidewalk outside, recording attendees, calling them "disgusting" "groomers" or "faggots" who wanted "to cut the dicks off of little boys" and even following and heckling both performers and attending families as they walked back to their cars. 

"It's going to be so kek when we take away all your rights," one protester associated with the white Christian nationalist America First/groyper movement told a counterprotester who was defending the event, using movement slang that roughly means "lol." In response, hard-right YouTuber and protest leader John Doyle, who was standing nearby, added with a smirk, "Every single one of them."

It was an ominous start to Pride month in a year that has seen increasingly vitriolic attacks on LGBTQ rights across the country, and the Dallas protest followed the cancellation of another Pride event in Indiana featuring drag performers after conservatives targeted it online. But on the right, the protest was treated as a coup. 

RELATED: Who is Nick Fuentes? A young white nationalist who hopes to pull the GOP all the way to Hitler

Videos taken by protesters circulated widely online, amplified by numerous conservative media figures and politicians. An "America First" congressional candidate from Ohio tweeted his support for one protester who'd tried to force his way into the bar, while another "America First" former congressional candidate from New York marked his approval with a tweet that read simply, "John Doyle Nationalism." Former Trump campaign adviser Steve Cortes praised the crowd for confronting "these sick groomers who sexualize children," and a cohost on the right-wing podcast of Steven Crowder remarked that Nazism had arisen as "a response to this kind of culture developing in Germany." 

The Dallas incident rapidly worked its way up the right-wing food chain, from the Blaze to the Daily Caller to Alex Jones to Steve Bannon and then, inevitably, to Tucker Carlson.

The story quickly worked its way up the right-wing media food chain, from The Blaze and American Greatness to The Daily Caller and Alex Jones' Infowars to Steve Bannon's War Room and Tucker Carlson's primetime show on Fox. (In a queasy echo of the Crowder podcast, as Melissa Gira Grant reported at the New Republic, Carlson introduced his segment on the event by saying, "Just another weekend in Weimar.")

By Monday afternoon, Texas state Rep. Bryan Slaton, a former pastor, had issued a press release promising to introduce a bill banning drag performances in the presence of minors. 

"The events of the past weekend were horrifying and show a disturbing trend in which perverted adults are obsessed with sexualizing young children," Slaton said. While he would never take his own kids to such a show, he continued, "Protecting our own children isn't enough, and our responsibility as lawmakers extends to the sexualization that is happening across Texas." 

By that evening, Media Matters reported, far-right Florida state Rep. Anthony Sabatini, a QAnon supporter currently running for Congress, vowed to follow suit — and go further — by "proposing Legislation to charge w/ a Felony and terminate the parental rights of any adult who brings a child to these perverted sex shows aimed at FL kids." 

But as the event became powerful fodder for right-wing outrage, less attention was paid to who was behind it. A series of videos of the protesters taken by a local progressive mutual aid group, Elm Fork John Brown Gun Club, noted that many of the protesters were "self-described Christian fascists." As it turns out, that's not hyperbole or name-calling but literally true. The protesters who gathered outside Mr. Misster last weekend represented various groups, but virtually all of them were affiliated with or inspired by the extremely online, extremely radical Gen-Z version of the alt-right. Many were also connected to the America First/"groyper" movement led by avowed racist and Christian fascist Nick Fuentes. 

Want a daily wrap-up of all the news and commentary Salon has to offer? Subscribe to our morning newsletter, Crash Course.

While many conservatives have distanced themselves from the groyper movement's official presence at events like its America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC) this February — which featured praise of Hitler and calls to hang political opponents — when groypers or their allies show up to hurl abuse at LGBTQ people, they find a warmer reception. Indeed, Saturday's event and the response to it illustrate the deep synergy between the young, white Christian nationalist foot soldiers of the right and the broader conservative mainstream, when the two factions are united around common enemies.

*  *  *

Although it's been a banner year for anti-LGBTQ invective, videos taken last Saturday by protesters, progressive activists and a local filmmaker mark the Dallas event as uniquely vicious. Protesters repeatedly shouting "groomer" at attendees was just the start. In various clips, one male protester can be seen pushing through counterprotesters as he tries to follow a family with two young children back to their car, yelling, "I'd be ashamed to be your child" and "Why are you hiding from the crowd?" Another protester shouted through a megaphone that he was wearing gardening gloves so he didn't "get AIDS." Another threatened, "The fist of Christ will come down on you very soon. We're done with this. We're done with this." 

In a series of interviews conducted by Dallas filmmaker Kurtz Frausun with both right-wing protesters and the people defending the bar, another man said, "We are just early to the party. Mark my words. One day, everyone will see what's going on in there … and people will be pissed." At at least one point, protesters began chanting "Christ Is King" — a phrase that has been widely adopted as a rallying cry among the groyper movement. 

Right-wing insult comic Alex Stein taunted a Black police officer: "You're not one of those down-low brothers. Your dad probably dragged you to a lot of gay bars."

Right-wing comedian and QAnon advocate Alex Stein, best known for viral stunts like wearing a women's bathing suit to a city council meeting to mock trans rights, was featured in a number of videos trying to force his way into the bar, laughing as he shouted, "They're gonna groom a bunch of children in here!" In additional footage captured by Frausun, Stein tells counterprotesters they are going to hell and taunts a Black police officer outside the bar by saying, "You're not one of those down-low brothers. Your dad probably dragged you to a lot of gay bars." 

After the protest, Stein appeared on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones' show Infowars, where he showed footage of himself following one event performer back to her car along with a social media post he'd found in which another performer talked about getting pizza. That, he said, was "declassified" FBI "secret code words that they use in order to talk about their child pedophilia": a throwback to the infamous Pizzagate conspiracy panic that roiled the right in the early days of the MAGA movement. (Stein also agreed with Jones that public school teachers tend to be pedophiles, since "most normal people" "don't want to be around kids" who aren't their own.) 

Another protest leader, University of North Texas student Kelly Neidert, founder of the newly-launched group Protect Texas Kids, told Frausun that she hadn't shown up at the bar to be "hateful" to LGBTQ people, even as Frausun filmed her screaming at attendees, "Y'all are disgusting people and you are abusing these children." In a March article for the Daily Beast, Steve Monacelli and Jack Wheatley reported on Neidert and her twin brother, who are communications managers for branches of the Young Conservatives of Texas at their respective colleges. At UNT, students have called for Neidert, who has become a minor conservative media celebrity, to be expelled for creating a hostile atmosphere for trans students. She posted a tweet last October calling herself a "Christian Fascist." 

But the leading figure in the most vitriolic attacks on Saturday was John Doyle, a 22-year-old YouTube streamer and activist who has been closely aligned with white nationalists like Fuentes and has referred to himself explicitly as a white nationalist. Doyle has built up a fan base of angry, disaffected Gen-Z white men, including more than 300,000 followers on YouTube, through his show, "Heck Off, Commie!," which promotes a red-meat, exclusionary vision of America as gripped by progressive degeneracy and decay, with white men under attack from women, LGBTQ people and racial minorities — and authoritarian Christian nationalism as the obvious solution. 

"Ultimately," Doyle explained at a 2021 Gen-Z Christian nationalist camping retreat called 76Fest, "it's going to be the responsibility of strong white men" — or, as Doyle also put it, "the forgotten gamers of America, the white boys" — "to take our country back." As Salon reported in a two-part investigation this May, Doyle is also among the groyper and groyper-adjacent figures who have been elevated by the Catholic right media outlet Church Militant.

This February, in (belated) observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Doyle posted a lengthy video purporting to explain why King was "not a hero" but rather "a serial adulterer and communist and plagiarist and race hustler" who was "propped up by the elites to fundamentally restructure American society." During the hour-long show, Doyle argued that "The destruction of white racism is ultimately code for the destruction of American society" and that King was "a false idol, his legacy sucks and everyone in this country is worse off because of his efforts." 

Doyle is closely associated with Nick Fuentes, although their relationship appears complicated. Doyle was a featured guest at Fuentes' AFPAC event in February, where the crowd chanted Vladimir Putin's name, Fuentes praised Hitler and Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar delivered speeches. 

John Doyle has a clear fan base, which overlaps with the groypers: He has said it's up to "the forgotten gamers of America, the white boys," to "take our country back."

Doyle has at times demeaned the groyper movement — in one Instagram Live video last month, he claimed that "the average guy who watches my videos is a mid-20s guy who works out and probably has a girlfriend, while the average groyper is unironically a 15-year-old autistic incel" — but on the whole they maintain a mutually beneficial alliance. In 2020, Fuentes and Doyle jointly led a Stop the Steal protest in Lansing, Michigan, just weeks before the Capitol insurrection in Washington (at which Fuentes was present). The following summer, they marched together through the halls of a Dallas meeting of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) — from which Fuentes had been barred — chanting, "Groyper! Groyper!" While Fuentes remains largely exiled from the conservative establishment — for which overt praise of Hitler and jokes about the Holocaust are still too far — Doyle regularly speaks at Turning Point USA events on college campuses, networks with conservative elites at conferences like CPAC and appears on right-wing media like BlazeTV. 

Doyle and Fuentes also share an overlapping fan base. Like Fuentes, Doyle maintains his following by cultivating an online cult of personality and performing in-person stunts like last Saturday's counterprotest, which drew several recognized figures from the groyper movement among the crowd. They included Anderson White, an organizer of 76Fest, and Reggie Amerson, who says he's running for a seat in the Arkansas state legislature in 2024. Other protesters present on Saturday, such as YouTube streamers Nathaniel Abbott and Gabe Victal, are associated with another Gen-Z Christian nationalist group, the American Populist Union, which closely mimics Fuentes' movement and counts many groypers among its ranks. Doyle has headlined multiple APU events and served as figurehead for the movement.

At an October 2021 anti-abortion protest at the University of North Texas, where Kelly Neidler has become a prominent right-wing activist, Doyle jeered at counterprotesting students by asking, "What is wrong with Christian fascism?" and saying, "I am radicalizing the youth and you can do nothing about it." In another video from that event, Doyle taunts his foes by saying, "You guys better improve your tone because when we and all my friends take power, bad things are going to happen to you."

Last Saturday in Dallas, Doyle used his megaphone to call counterprotesters and attendees "faggot" and shouted at parents with young children, "Why do you want to put an axe-wound between your son's legs?" and "You people are the symptom of a dying society."  In an interview with Frausun, he said that "being gay is the issue" his group was there to protest and that "Sexually deviant people create more sexually deviant people by getting together and grooming children. That's the only way." 

In another video captured by local activists, Doyle suggests that Texas sheriffs should enter Mr. Misster "and put bullets in all their heads. They'd be rewarded for it. That's what the badge is for." 

Rather than encountering any pushback from conservatives, Doyle was rewarded by being asked to guest-host a show this Wednesday on Glenn Beck's BlazeTV network, along with a number of his fellow protest leaders, one of whom suggested that people who suffered "sexual trauma" in childhood should be preemptively "locked up" before they become "abusers" too.

*  *  *

Compared to folks like Doyle, one local activist told the Dallas Voice, some of the other protesters were comparatively well-behaved, staying across the street and primarily chanting the Rosary. But as it turns out, that faction was organized by yet another "Christian fascist" group aligned with the hard right, the New Columbia Movement.

Founded in 2020, the New Columbia Movement proclaimed in a promotional video last fall that "Christian nationalism is the only way forward as far as laying the foundation for restoring morality, truth and justice to our world." In a manifesto published on its website, the group calls for establishing "a New Columbia" in which America would be "reborn as a model of Christian society" that has "[broken] the chains of immorality that hold us back." That manifesto calls the notion of equality — or at least what they consider "unnatural equality" — "evil," describes democracy as a "failed experiment" and advocates for a "Roman" model as the solution to "America's cultural diversity," in which "Subjugated peoples" would be allowed to "retain their personal culture," but only under "a High American Culture" based on "Christian morality, rule of law, and the common good."  

The group claims to maintain a network of regional chapters across the country, as well as a women's league. But like Doyle, the groypers and the American Populist Union, the New Columbia Movement primarily recruits its members among terminally online Gen-Z men through a steady stream of memes, videos and other digital content that appeal to male supremacist beliefs, anti-LGBTQ bigotry, anti-Black and anti-immigrant racism and motifs of civilizational decline, all of it rooted in an exclusionary brand of Christianity. 

New Columbia Movement leaders have praised "incel" mass shooter Elliot Rodger, and half-jokingly referred to "the Jewish Question."

In YouTube videos, New Columbia Movement leaders have referred to Elliot Rodger, the incel mass shooter who killed six people in Santa Barbara in 2014, as "the supreme gentleman": a self-aggrandizing term Rodger used in his last pre-massacre video, which has since become a common term of endearment on far-right forums like 4chan. Leaders also traffic in antisemitism, as when one leader asserted on a 2021 livestream entitled "The Sexual Revolution and its Consequences" that Jews "do in fact have a very tight stranglehold on the porn industry" as well as "a huge hold on Hollywood." Another leader then added, "This can turn into a 'J.Q.' podcast real fast!" — a reference to the alt-right and neo-Nazi abbreviation for "the Jewish Question." Movement social media posts also regularly denigrate Jewish religious texts such as the Talmud, and one Instagram post captioned an image of ancient Israelite Jews as "the most dangerous enemy in the world." 

In the group's first livestream broadcast in July 2020, its co-founders, SK Nicholas Chimera Jr. and Nicholas Haas — both of whom claim to be fourth-degree members of the Catholic fraternal organization Knights of Columbus — detailed their ideological journey to the far right. When the two met in college, Haas explained, SK "was borderline national socialist wignat" — a reference to an online neo-Nazi subculture — and frequented neofascist online forums, while Haas described himself as "basically the definition of a Three Percenter militiaman." SK, who professed his admiration for the former fascist regimes in Italy and Spain, added that "both of our positions lacked God. That's the thing. Once we introduced God into it, we were fine." 

Unlike the groypers or Doyle's movement, the New Columbians eschew activism to influence the conservative establishment or the Republican Party, arguing instead for a grassroots approach focused on pushing Christian churches and religious institutions ever further rightward. In a YouTube video posted last July, a movement leader identified only as "Sean" argued that "core conservative concepts are better represented by something like third positionism" — that is, a form of fascism — "rather than modern-day conservatism." 

While based in traditionalist Catholicism, the movement aims to draw in right-wing Christians from across faith and denominational lines, arguing that, "Only a united Christian front will save the West." 

In the lead-up to last Saturday's protest in Dallas, the New Columbia Movement posted on social media that its "southwest chapter" would gather with local Catholics to pray the Rosary outside the Cedar Springs bar. After the protest concluded, the group posted pictures on Twitter as well as a brief video clip of one of its leaders, Andrew Lafuente, interviewing John Doyle. "There's a reason that we have a right to peacefully protest — because it doesn't actually do anything," Doyle told Lafuente. "This is a good start to strike fear into the eyes of the sinners and the degenerates and the abominable people that are occupying this area. But it's not enough." 

In their post sharing the video, the movement's account exclaimed that Doyle was "fired up" by the protest, "and so are we! The slow ascent to power is real. We will take this country back!" 

Read more on the far right's ambitious agenda:

By Kathryn Joyce

Kathryn Joyce was an investigative reporter at Salon, and the author of two books: "The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking and the New Gospel of Adoption" and "Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement."

MORE FROM Kathryn Joyce

By Ben Lorber

Ben Lorber is a researcher focusing on white nationalism and antisemitism at Political Research Associates, a think tank that monitors right-wing movements.

MORE FROM Ben Lorber

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Anti-lgbtq Dallas Far-right Groypers Homophobia Investigation Lgbtq Pride Nick Fuentes White Nationalism