Drag queens perform on the street in a pink high-heeled shoe during the Gay Pride Parade in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. (False images)
A group of neo-Nazis with swastikas and transphobic signs gathered near a restaurant hosting a drag brunch in Pflugerville, Texas, on Sunday, just days after the state’s Republican Party tweeted an “alert” about the event.
A man raised a flag with a swastika. Another wore a red hat adorned with a swastika and another had a swastika on a chain around his neck. One had his face covered with a skeleton mask and held a flag containing two SS lightning bolts, another symbol referencing the Nazi Third Reich.
They held signs that read “Travesti is not a gender; it’s a mental disorder” and “It’s okay to be white”. Some members of the group wore clothing with a symbol associated with the Aryan Freedom Network, a white supremacist group that has ramped up recruitment and propaganda efforts across the country, including Texas, in the past year.
The GOP has been waging a protracted year-round campaign against drag queen shows, particularly those touted as family-friendly, and uses those events as a means of incorporating conspiracy theories and anti-LGBTQ bigotry. As a result, those events have become lightning rods for extremists from across the gamut, including the Proud Boys, Christian fascists, QAnon, and neo-Nazis.
While it’s unclear exactly why the neo-Nazi group chose Pflugerville, their appearance in the Austin suburb coincided with the drag brunch event at Hanover Draft Haus. Two days earlier, the Texas Republican Party had “alerted” its 71,000 Twitter followers about the planned event.
The Texas Republican Party did not respond to VICE News’ request for comment. His initial “alert” about the scheduled drag brunch drew swift criticism from the LGBTQ and activist community.
One Twitter user suggested that the Pflugerville brunch drag “would probably need armed protection.” “With panic inciting the Republican Party of Texas, they may also want to contact an attorney,” they wrote, followed by the hashtags “#FilmEverything” and “#LeftistsHaveGunsToo.”
The Texas Republican Party responded to this tweet, saying, “All we did was let people know what was happening in their area, and the left instantly jumped into violence.”
Ali Shabazz, a 36-year-old Pflugerville resident who recently moved from Los Angeles, told VICE News that she was taking a walk downtown for coffee around 1 p.m. He didn’t think much of it, until he walked over and heard metal music and saw a small group of men in Nazi paraphernalia sitting outside a taco house.
He later tweeted: “Just walked by a Nazi rally in downtown Pflugerville.”
Pflugerville wasn’t the only part of Texas to see extremist activity this weekend.
On Saturday in Plano, 200 miles from Pflugerville, a motley group of militants and extremists joined a protest against Pride celebrations taking place in the city. Local freelance journalist Steven Monacelli identified some of the people in the group, including a “groyper” (a supporter of live white nationalist Nick Fuentes) and several Proud Boys.
Monacelli said he also identified the leader of Protect Texas Kids, a nonprofit run by anti-trans activists that has been spearheading anti-LGBTQ activism in the state, including one tense protest against a brunch drag in Roanoke, Texas, last month that led to clashes between armed anti-fascists and far-right protesters.
(Disclosure: Gavin McInnes, who founded Proud Boys in 2016, co-founded VICE in 1994. He left the company in 2008 and has had no involvement since.)
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