While Boston’s planned “straight pride parade” has created a fountain of hilarious jokes, there is a serious issue at hand with organizers’ close ties to far-right groups.
The three men organizing the parade, planned for August 31, are John Hugo, Mark Sahady, and Chris Bartley, who is called the “gay ambassador” on the event website. Sahady has ties to groups like the Proud Boys, the New Hampshire American Guard, and the Massachusetts Patriot Front.
Hugo unsuccessfully ran for the Massachusetts’ 5th Congressional District in 2018 with support and endorsement from Resist Marxism, a group that is considered to be “alt-lite” and holds anti-Semitic, misogynist, and anti-LGBTQ views.
Ahead of a Central Maine Pride Festival event in Waterville, Maine, last month the group posted on Facebook “Attention Patriots in Maine” to alert people that a drag queen planned to come in and read children’s books. Referring to Medicaid covering transition-related surgeries, the group asked, “Are we living in clown world?” The phrase “clown world” is popular in far-right spaces, according to Right Wing Watch.
On his campaign website last year, Hugo advocated for “respect for law and order as well as respect for civil rights; and neither need to be exclusive.”
His Facebook posts, however, don’t support the idea that he wants tolerance or civil rights for any marginalized group, including LGBTQ people.
On the organizers’ website, Sahady describes himself as someone who has “been working on and speaking about social justice issues in the Boston area for several years.” Another way to describe Sahady is an organizer with Resist Marxism, who is seen on video rushing towards and grabbing a trans woman at the Boston Women’s March in January.
Maxwell Hare, who identifies as a member of the far-right Proud Boys, attended one of Sahady’s rallies in October last year. A few days later at a separate event in New York, he charged at anti-fascist protesters and threw the first punch that started an assault on them. The incident was filmed and Share was charged with riot and attempted gang assault. Sahady was also present at a violent Patriot Prayer rally in Portland last year.
Sahady has referred to his comfort with violence more covertly than outspoken neo-Nazis, but his social media posts reveal that he considers violence an acceptable response to counter-protesters at their events.
The Boston Democratic Socialists of America has noted on Twitter that Sahady is usually more careful not to show how extreme his views are compared to some figures on the far right, but that sometimes he lets the facade slip.
The DSA captured a screenshot from Facebook before the midterms in which Sahady wrote, “So if Republicans win the midterms then are democrats going to rise up and we will have a civil war? Alright. Let’s get out there and vote patriots. We may get to throw anti-American communists out of helicopters sooner than we thought.” Sahady was referring to Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, who killed at least 120 political dissidents by throwing them from helicopters. Far-right circles often refer to Pinochet and helicopters, including tweets at people offering “free helicopter rides.”
Josh Camden, a member of the New Hampshire American Guard militia and tattooed neo-Nazi who sometimes goes by the name “Josh Cameron,” often attends Resist Marxism rallies, as the Boston DSA and the anarchist, antifascist, and anti-capitalist news site It’s Going Down have documented. American Guard has past and current connections to white supremacist groups and frequently embraces images of Daniel Day Lewis as Bill The Butcher, who leads a nativist gang that terrorizes immigrants in the 2002 movie Gangs of New York.
Resist Marxism is an example of what some on the right refer to as the “alt-lite,” which focuses on how political correctness is supposedly oppressing conservatives, “identity politics” is destroying the West, and free speech is under attack, and feminism is bad. The alt-lite may not go as far to use racial slurs like so-called “alt-right” white supremacists do but their ideas are basically the same. Their slight use of restraint in comparison to open white supremacists may make it easier to attract new people to far-right circles.
The Anti-Defamation League wrote of this movement, that its “adherents generally shun white supremacist thinking,” but “are in step with the alt right in their hatred of feminists and immigrants, among others” and that it “traffics in conspiracy theories.”
Kyle Chapman, who founded Resist Marxism, has a history of violence, and posted as recently as last year, calling on “people of all colors to condemn the demonization/dehumanization of white folk,” ThinkProgress reported. He went by the nickname Based Stickman after he hit an antifascist protester over the head with a wooden rod at a pro-Trump rally. This became a popular far-right meme in 2017. Chapman linked to a post from Brien James of The American Guard, who the Anti-Defamation League describes as a “long-time Indiana white supremacist.” The Southern Poverty Law Center has described his history of violence and role in white supremacist communities. ThinkProgress has also reported on the group’s anti-Semitic chats last year. Chapman responded to that article and argued that James was a changed man.
Altogether, the numerous violent people connected with Resist Marxism, along with actual members of the group who have either been accused of violence or casually throw out references to violence through their social media presence, should be give Bostonians cause for concern.
Bartley, the straight pride parade’s so-called “gay ambassador,” retweeted Jack Posobiec’s support of the parade. Posobiec perpetuated the conspiracy theory known as “Pizzagate,” that alleged a Washington, D.C., restaurant served as a child trafficking ring. In 2016, a man, who prosecutors said subscribed to that conspiracy theory, fired several shots into the restaurant. Posobiec has embraced white supremacist figures and published posts with the white supremacist code “1488” and has associated with Roger Stone and Alex Jones.
Bartley uses a photo of anti-LGBTQ Vice President Mike Pence as his background picture on Facebook. Bartley has also called anti-fascist activists “the true fascists,” retweeted someone who said “If the whole world was gay humanity would cease to exist,” and tweeted that “Anyone who tweets #IStandWithIlhan is supporting the chants “Death to America.” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), the first black Muslim woman in Congress, has received a number of death threats after conservatives fanned the flames of racism and Islamophobia following some comments she made about 9/11, as well as a tweet she apologized for regarding the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
A group called Solidarity Against Hate-Boston, is hosting an event called “Straight Pride is Hate Pride” to counter-protest the parade. On Facebook, over 800 people have said they are interested in the event. The organizers wrote in their Facebook post, “More than an absurd joke, this is an attempt to gain legitimacy for a violently homophobic, transphobic, and misogynistic agenda.”
The group released a statement to ThinkProgress about its experiences with Sahady and Resist Marxism. Referring to violence at the Patriot Prayer rally and Chapman being based in the Bay-area, it said, “RM is an attempt to emulate the right-wing violence culture on the west coast. They have failed because we’ve met them with overwhelming numbers of counterprotesters. Even then, they’ve been violent — choking, shoving, punching … They have tried to disrupt DSA meetings, trans rights rallies, & immigration rights rallies. That things haven’t gotten more violent is a testimony to the work people in the city have done to counter these actions, and RM’s own incompetence.”
The group said about its plans to respond to the straight pride parade, “Straight Pride is Hate Pride will keep the pressure up. We see them for what they are — a pathetic attempt by the altright to rebrand — and we don’t want them in our city.”