Gays for Trump founder Peter Boykin is challenging an African-American Democrat in a bid to represent a Democratic-leaning NC House district in Greensboro.
An outspoken, gay Trump supporter and proprietor of MagaOneRadio.net, Boykin filed on Monday as a Republican in House District 58.
Amos Quick, a former Guilford County School Board member who is serving his first term, filed for the seat two weeks ago. A former Boys and Girls Club executive director, Quick now serves as pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in High Point. Quick also faces a Democratic challenger in Kate Flippen, who is pursuing a master’s degree in public health at UNCG, according to an article in the News & Record.
“I’ve been telling people that in order to make change in the GOP and make sure we are making America great again we have to get involved,” Boykin told Triad City Beat. “It’s important that we get involved in midterms when voting is so low.”
Boykin and his husband David Smith, who is black, became fixtures on the 2016 campaign trail by showing up at Trump rallies wearing red MAGA hats and “Gays for Trump” shirts featuring a rainbow-themed stars and bars motif that flipped the assumption about who Trump supporters were supposed to be.
During Trump’s Oct. 14, 2016 rally at White Oak Amphitheater in Greensboro, Smith earned brief media notoriety for ejecting Greensboro resident Derek Dunham from the venue.
“Get this guy out of here,” Trump said when he spotted Dunham near the front holding an American flag in an upside-down distress position. Video captured Smith placing Dunham in a headlock and using his body to shove him up the aisle away from the stage where Trump was speaking. Smith then high-fived other Trump supporters before two Greensboro police officers escorted him out of the venue. The sight of the police escorting out a young black man raising his fists in exultation led to predictable assumptions by other Trump supporters: The video shows an elderly white man swatting Smith with a Trump placard as he passed.
“This was my hubby founder of #GaysForTrump @7Valentine7 [Smith] at #Greensboro #TrumpRally last year kicking out #Antifa,” Boykin tweeted more than a year later.
As a public speaker and prolific social media user, Boykin has flirted with the alt-right and Islamophobic extremists while cheerleading for the president.
This weekend, Boykin is organizing the second annual March 4 Trump in Washington. Promoting the first March 4 Trump in 2017, he appeared on “InfoWars,” the massively popular program hosted by far-right conspiracy-monger Alex Jones. When Jones asked how he dealt with people comparing Trump to Hitler, Boykin responded, “I make fun of ’em. I like the meme ‘Keep calm, everyone’s a Nazi.’ They always bring up: ‘[Vice President Mike] Pence is gonna electrocute you.’ I’ll send ’em back a picture of Pence zapping people. It’s stupid. It’s silly. It’s nuts. I make fun of it.”
At the time, Milo Yiannopoulos, the alt-right provocateur and former Breitbart editor, was receiving wide-scale condemnation from left and right after a video surfaced of him endorsing pedophilia.
Boykin came to Yiannopoulos’ defense at a sister rally to support Trump on March 4, 2017.
“We’ve got to fight against fake news,” he said. “We’ve can’t have people like Milo, who’ve done a great job, to be put down for something like that. It’s all fake news. We all gotta do our own research. We own this device in our own pocket. We can do research. We’re citizen journalists. We shouldn’t have to fight against whatever little crap they put in our minds. We’re having to fight against what I call ‘gay zombies’ and far, far left liberals. Extreme liberalism is a mental disorder. Period. When you call someone from Gays for Trump like ‘Jews for Hitler,’ what are you talking about? You voted for somebody who likes radical Muslim terrorists that want to throw gays off buildings, but somehow the liberal LGBT wants to go for those people? What’s wrong with those people?… We’re out here fighting that insanity. We’re giving people the red pill every day. People like me, people like Milo, we tell the truth.”
Boykin acted as emcee for the Raleigh March Against Sharia, part of a string of simultaneous rallies organized across the nation by Act for America on June 10, 2017. Based in Virginia Beach, Va., Act for America is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “an anti-Muslim hate group because it pushes wild anti-Muslim conspiracy theories, denigrates American Muslims and deliberately conflates mainstream and radical Islam.”
Boykin said he was recruited to coordinate the Raleigh event by Scott Presler, a Gays for Trump member who went on to work for Act for America. The Raleigh event attracted an array of far-right groups, including a patriot militia-styled “3 Percenter” clique from the Piedmont Triad and the preppy white supremacist group Identity Evropa, who went on to participate in the violent Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va.
Boykin told TCB that the rally was not against Muslims. “Not saying that people who practice Islam are bad,” he said. “There’s an Islam lite.”
His comments reflected a toxic and distorted view that Islam is incompatible with the American system of government, and the myth that American Muslims are attempting to establish sharia law to oppress non-Muslims in the United States.
“There’s been people who have been murdered and killed by people following sharia law,” Boykin said. “They will try to get in an area and try to change it.” He added, “I am someone who understands that the law is based on a Christian structure, and there is a separation of church and state.”
Later, he offered a contradictory view by acknowledging that all religions have factions that pervert their teachings to justify violence.
“Just like I would be against radical Christianity, like Westboro Baptist Church, the radical left, the radical right, anything that’s going to harm innocent people,” he said.
Boykin said he didn’t invite Identity Evropa to the event and didn’t know much about them at the time.
“I said, ‘Y’all look like an alt-right group,’” he recalled. “I said, ‘I’m going to go out on a limb if I let you speak. If you keep it to this topic, that’s fine, but if you go into any other thing I will take this mic from you and denounce you on the spot.’”
Orry von Diez of Identity Evropa gave a speech that espoused Western chauvinism, Islamaphobia and patriarchy, while stopping just short of white nationalism.
“We will not stand by while our women are draped in scarves, while our children are mutilated and while our men are emasculated before our very people,” he said. “This is not what our Western civilization is all about. This is not what the West was founded on. This is not what America was founded on, and we will not stand for this.”
Boykin’s support for Trump and alignment with far-right causes has put him in coalition with homophobes while alienating him from mainstream LGBTQ organizations. Boykin said he took exception when Alan Hoyle, a Christian theocrat associated with the Oath Keepers militia, picked up the bullhorn and started preaching against homosexuality and “fornication.”
Boykin said he’s not disappointed in the least in Trump’s record on LGBTQ issues, including the president’s announcement that transgender people will no longer be allowed to serve in the military, which has been struck down by the federal courts and is opposed by Defense Secretary James Mattis.
“It was more of an economic thing to make sure the military didn’t pay for the transgender surgeries, which are elective,” Boykin said. “The school of thought is still out if there is a mental disorder. I hate to say that transgenders [sic] have a mental disorder because at one time homosexuals were considered mentally challenged.”
The American Psychological Association has issued an opinion that “identifying as transgender does not constitute a mental disorder.” The Pentagon began paying for gender-reassignment surgeries after lifting a ban on transgender servicemembers in 2016, and has done so as recently as November 2017 despite Trump’s order.
Boykin goes so far as to reject the umbrella term “LGBTQ,” which stands for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer.”
“I prefer ‘Gays, lesbians, bisexuals and allies,’” he said. “They have their own agenda. We can support it, but we can’t let them interfere with what we have accomplished. Truly I don’t consider transgender to be gay.”
Asked about his means of earning a livelihood, Boykin responded that he’s a co-owner of the MAGAOneRadio.net website, but audio playing on the site currently references the departure of Sebastian Gorka, the far-right intelligence analyst who resigned from the Trump administration in late August 2017. If a GoFundMe page set up by Boykin is any indication, the energy surrounding the year of the Trump campaign was more hospitable for a gay, right-wing advocacy group than that of the first year of Trump in office.
“It’s time for LGBT people to abandon the left,” Boykin wrote. “They have clearly chosen radical Islam & resistance rather than gay rights. You can’t have it all. Pick one!
“Hi, as you may not know funding for grassroots has been extremely low this year.
“Due to this GaysForTrump & Allies have not been as active as it should be.
“Last year I spent $11,000 out of pocket. I cannot this year.”
The campaign set a goal of $5,000. So far, 12 people have ponied up a total of $410.
The House district Boykin seeks to represent is one of three that cut across Greensboro and lean Democratic, although it’s difficult to say exactly how difficult it would be for a Republican to win since the court-ordered map is brand new. The new map effectively allows Democrats to pick up one district in Guilford County, so by spreading friendly voters out more evenly all the districts are likely to become slightly more competitive.
Boykin said he’s still working on his platform, but the two issues he mentioned are undeniably Trumpian and not at all gay.
“We have a lot of news about proper gun control, and I want to ensure that guns are not taken away from people,” Boykin said. “I want to make sure guns are put in the right hands with the right training…. I believe there should be some armed protection in our schools.”
He also said he wants to promote voter ID, a measure that was part of an omnibus North Carolina election law that was struck down by the federal courts as unconstitutional.
“Just to make sure our voting system is correct in our counties I would love to push for a voter ID law,” Boykin said. “Knowing that I could type in my name in the election bureau, find my name, find my polling location, and go vote, it scares me. People could show up at the polls and vote in your name. Imagine what would happen if they bussed people in.”