The looming barrage of organized attacks on the LGBTQ community at this year’s Pride events by homophobic right-wing extremists tipped off last weekend in Dallas, where a notorious white nationalist led a crew of protesters who attempted to invade a family-friendly drag show held as part of the city’s Pride Week on Saturday.
Chanting “Groomers! Groomers!” while antifascist activists prevented them from entering, the crowd of about 40 protesters stood outside and hurled abuse at participants while carrying signs reading “Stop exploiting our kids” and “Confuse a child, abuse a child.” It had been organized on Facebook by an anti-LGBT outfit called Protect Texas Kids, but the crowd’s leader on Saturday was John Doyle, a leading figure in the white-nationalist American Populist Union (APU) and a popular YouTuber who specializes in racist, misogynist, and homophobic rants.
Doyle first approached people gathered outside the event, a ticketed private show held at a gay bar but with no alcohol for sale, and marched up to them and began harassing them with snide remarks through a bullhorn, calling them “groomers” and “pedophiles.” One mother who had accompanied children who fled in terror from Doyle and the cluster of about a dozen MAGA-hatted “Groypers” who accompanied him turned and berated the smirking young men: “Shame on you!”
Gathered on the street corner, Doyle led the crowd in chants of “Groomers!” and making similar suggestions, running rampant currently on the rabid right, that LGBT-friendly material equates to pederasts “grooming” their victims. Some of the protesters attempted to enter the venue through side doors and were prevented from doing so by antifascist counterprotesters.
Another man—an African American who told other protesters, “I’m not a Nazi, I’m a fascist”—attempted to follow a family with children who exited the venue, but was likewise prevented from doing so by antifascist counterprotesters.
Doyle and his compatriots were undisguised provocateurs. One protester standing next to him told a rainbow-haired counterprotester, “I can’t wait until we take all your rights away,” smirking. Doyle chimed in: “Every one, every single one of them.”
He later berated police officers who showed up and prevented them from tangling with antifascists, urging them to go inside and arrest the drag show’s participants. “The sheriffs in Texas need to go in there and blow off all their heads,” he told them. “That’s what the badge is for.”
Much of the protest was captured on video and posted on Twitter by the Elm Fork John Brown Gun Club, an antifascist collective. Local TV station WFAA covered it, but focused on the content of the show inside, and only quoted one of the protesters, who told them she had come out because “now it’s kids.” (The Dallas Morning News did not bother to cover it, though it did manage to run a local-news item about a new Bojangles franchise opening up in Frisco.)
Doyle is one of the white-nationalist alt-right’s fresh faces, unrepentantly bigoted and unapologetically neofascist in his politics. Thanks to his large YouTube following of over 300,000, he’s one of the leading figures in the white-nationalist American Populist Union (APU), which the ADL describes as “a Groyper-esque group that champions anti-immigration and anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments and regards the modern GOP as a corrupt, globalist conservative establishment.”
On one of his recent shows, Doyle viciously smeared Martin Luther King Jr.
“Without the assassination, he wouldn’t have a legacy, and I guarantee you he wouldn’t have a holiday,” Doyle said. “He would have become someone like Al Sharpton, or Jesse Jackson. Like, eventually the information about the scandals would have gone public—his infidelity, his Communist ties, his plagiarism—but now, because he was assassinated, nobody cares about that. Because the story goes that he died fighting for equality and he was killed by a racist white man. … So in terms of the legacy of Martin Luther King, being assassinated was, like, the best thing that could have happened to him.”
Doyle was one of the featured speakers at this year’s America First PAC convention, held in Florida in February, organized by white nationalist Nick Fuentes and featuring an array of both Republican and extremist far-right speakers. Fuentes’ America First organization is an alt-right-derived neofascist group that specializes in confrontational politics targeting other right-wing groups as well as promoting fanatical Trumpism and pro-Russian authoritarianism, with a growing “Groyper army” that specializes in the politics of intimidation.
Fuentes has praised Doyle as “based,” and the two of them organized a “Stop the Steal” rally in Detroit in November 2020. Doyle has described himself being “alt-right in 2016,” and defended the movement from critics: “So when people use the term ‘alt-right’ as a pejorative,” he told a private chat, “they’re just trying to demonize you for having politics that exist outside of the approved paradigm.”
Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar, the GOP’s leading white nationalist in Congress, earlier this year promoted his upcoming appearance at a “social mixer type event” sponsored by the APU and featuring himself and Doyle, as well as Arizona Republican state Sen. Warren Petersen, to be held on April 20—Adolf Hitler’s birthday. When the event was publicized in the press, both Gosar and Petersen quickly retreated, claiming they had never agreed to appear.
Doyle’s YouTube channel, as Ben Lorber explored for Political Research Associates, is an amalgam of classic alt-right themes: racism, antisemitism, nativism, conspiracism, and heavy doses of insecurity-fueled misogyny:
On his ‘Heck Off, Commie!’ show, Doyle, a 21-year-old APU celebrity with over 300,000 subscribers on YouTube, offers to save young men from societal alienation and emasculation and restore their rightful role as ‘chad’ societal guardians while he inveighs against the evils of pornography and an estrogen-infused water supply and fixates on pseudoscientific caricatures of physiognomy and IQ differences. Abbott and others call for the revivification of an epic warrior masculinity, energized by “the strength that builds nations, slays giant beasts, and defends your city from an invading army”, while unsurprisingly arguing for the subservience of women and delegitimizing trans and non-binary identities.
Doyle and his frequent cohort, white nationalist YouTuber Kai Schwemmer, also played leading roles in America First’s apparent victory in the “Groyper wars,” finally overwhelming their longtime target, Charlie Kirk’s Turning Point USA organization, which “Groypers” had deemed insufficiently radical. TPUSA signaled its surrender earlier this year when Doyle and Schwemmer were the featured speakers at TPUSA events in California that attracted protesters.