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Gays Against Groomers

Gays Against Groomers is a chapter-based organization that amplifies dehumanizing anti-trans rhetoric, perpetuates anti-LGBTQ+ stereotypes by falsely claiming that LGBTQ+ supporters of trans rights are dangerous to society – including equating gender-affirming health care with pedophilia and calling trans people a “bloodthirsty terrorist cult.” It directs online harassment and intimidation campaigns targeting LGBTQ+ people and events including drag shows, hospitals and libraries. The group’s members have associations with other extremist groups, trade in racist and anti-Muslim rhetoric, and advocate gender-affirming care bans and banning LGBTQ+ books and ideas from public schools.

GAG is led by Jaimee Michell, the group’s president, along with several organizational “leaders,” although the leadership has experienced turnover in 2023. For example, former secretary and Florida chapter leader David Leatherwood and executive director Frank Rodriguez “parted ways” with GAG in July and April 2023, respectively. Leatherwood’s departure was reportedly a reaction to Michell’s support for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis after his campaign released a deeply homophobic and transphobic ad and came amid allegations that Michell was paid by the DeSantis campaign.

GAG has more than a dozen chapters in the United States and abroad. While the group is known for its online presence, it also engages in such direct actions as rallies, leafleting and billboard advertising, lobbying and legacy media outreach. Beginning in 2023, the group also engaged in electioneering by soliciting and endorsing candidates for elected offices, starting with a local election in Virginia.

The group embraces anti-LGBTQ ideologies by describing almost all expressions of LGBTQ+ identity as “sexualized” and potentially harmful to young people. GAG also racializes transphobia by insinuating trans identity is a threat specifically to white children and is promoted by groups like Black Lives Matter. The group’s leaders have also adapted a rhetorical and political strategy from the anti-LGBTQ+ movement intended to use trans rights as a wedge within LGBTQ+ communities. The strategy involves claiming civil rights are a zero-sum game between gay people, on the one hand, and trans or gender-nonconforming people on the other. The group regularly spreads vicious anti-trans disinformation, pseudoscience and conspiracy theories, and has attacked anti-racist and LGBTQ+ inclusive education practices. The group also supports censoring LGBTQ+ people, topics and images such as Pride flags in schools.

GAG has used its national and chapter-led social media accounts to attack trans people, and to engage in harassment and intimidation campaigns against individual teachers, doctors, politicians, businesses and institutions of American civil society including schools and hospitals. The group characterizes these people and institutions as
“groomers” because they support gender-affirming health care and/or because they offer spaces for LGBTQ+ people to express their identity openly, such as space for drag performances (the satirical sendup of gender roles).

The group’s social media strategy is akin to other right-wing and anti-LGBTQ+ propaganda outlets and often employs false equivalencies, innuendo and the reductio ad absurdum fallacy by claiming absurd or false stories are representative and generalizable, then relying on anti-LGBTQ+ prejudice to fill in any gaps in their claims. In September 2022, the group’s Google account was suspended, following similar suspensions from payment-processing services PayPal and Venmo. The company cited its policy against promoting “hate, violence, or discriminatory intolerance” to justify the suspension. In July and August 2022, the group’s X (formerly Twitter) account was suspended for using the term “groomer” to refer to LGBTQ+ people; it has since been reinstated, however. In December 2022, the company Printful ended its relationship with the group, saying it shares “homophobic, transphobic misinformation that harms LGBTQ+ communities.” GAG raises money by soliciting donations and retailing merchandise through Shopify – including a version of the Progress Pride Flag that replaces stripes representing LGBTQ+ people of color and trans people with the GAG logo.

In Their Own Words

“The modern alphabet movement which we see today has opened the door for predators to infiltrate and masquerade behind and be able to prey on children free of criticism.” – X (formerly Twitter), Sept. 26, 2023

“There is definitely a pedophilia element to it.” – GAG Illinois chapter leader on opposition to Gays Against Groomers, Sept. 22, 2023

“WE ARE ECSTATIC THAT WE ARE DOOMING THE ALPHABET MAFIA!” – GAG North Carolina X (formerly Twitter), Sept. 18, 2023

“In our opinion, jail is far too kind. But it’s a good start!” – GAG X (formerly Twitter) in response to a call to imprison anyone who provides gender-affirming care to young trans people, June 2, 2023

“The gay rights movement was a bunch of based gays fighting the establishment to secure their rights. This new thing … is demonic. It is evil. It is designed to sexualize children and drive them insane. We will remember this when we meet our enemies.” – GAG Illinois X (formerly Twitter) featuring a picture of the black, brown, white, Light blue and pink stripes of the Progress Pride Flag replaced by the GAG logo, April 21, 2023

“If the American people do not do something soon, it will be legal to f*** kids. The government will eventually enforce it. These monsters are coming after ALL children. They are consuming them. The ‘Trans Bill of Rights’ will be the end of all things good and beautiful.” – GAG Illinois X (formerly Twitter), April 9, 2023

“Heteronormativity is an immutable truth.” – GAG X (formerly Twitter), April 12, 2023

“‘Transgender rights’ is an anti-gay genocidal hate cult run by child predators whose goal runs antithetical to ours. [...] Gay people are being legally, socially, and hormonally mandated out of existence in the name of ‘transgender rights.’ They have officially declared war. [...] We never consented to chopping up children for a bloodthirsty terrorist cult. We never consented to Baby Blue and Baby Pink stripes on our flag, groomer. […] We are being given no other options, other than burning this cult to the ground. Roll up your sleeves and get to work. The adults in the room are cleaning up the absolute mess that ‘gender identity’ has created. You’re either with us or against us. This ends now.” – GAG website, “The Transgender Bill of Rights: Gay Erasure and the End of Childhood Innocence.” April 8, 2023

“We are about to fight a civil war over whether or not kids are being groomed by drag queens.” – GAG X (formerly Twitter), April 1, 2023

“There is no such thing as queer youth.” – GAG X (formerly Twitter), March 31, 2023

“The modern trans movement is radicalizing activists into terrorists. [...] Trans terrorism is on the rise. […] This sends a message: if you don’t let us mutilate children’s genitals, then we will shoot yours.” – GAG then-Secretary David Leatherwood, “Real America with Dan Ball,” in response to the Covenant School shooting in Nashville, Tennessee, March 29, 2023

“No demographic has the civil right to castrate other people’s children. Standing against these lunatics is not a political issue – it’s a moral issue. […] It is time for gay adults, most of whom want nothing to do with this groomer circus, to overthrow the parasitic cult that is committing human atrocities in our name. [...] It is not discriminatory to condemn the sadistic behavior of brainwashed psychopaths who murder and disfigure children in the name of ‘civil rights.’” – GAG ambassador Ethan Harsell, “Deranged Trans Extremist Attacks Nashville Christian School — Our Opinion,” GAG website, March 28, 2023

“There’s a new slippery slope at play here, and it leads directly to kids being able to consent to sex with adults. Gender ideology is a trojan horse to pedophilia.” – GAG X (formerly Twitter), March 22, 2023

“Every year, THOUSANDS of children are exposed to displays of sexual depravity at Pride events, and MILLIONS applaud it. This year, Gays Against Groomers will not stand for this destruction of childhood innocence. Be seeing you REAL soon.” – GAG Illinois X (formerly Twitter), March 18, 2023

“When our children tell us they can fly, it is our job as grown-ups to listen and to believe them, and push them off a cliff to affirm them. That’s what it means to be a good parent.” – GAG X (formerly Twitter), March 17, 2023

“What’s happening would put Josef Mengele – I think that was his name – you know, the Nazi doctor. This puts him to shame.” – Jaimee Michell on One America News (OAN) discussing gender-affirming health care, Aug. 2, 2022

“There seems to be a perverse race to the bottom attitude with youth today. [...] At every turn, students seem to be seeking one or more forms of victim status. This inevitably bleeds over into LGBTQ+ identification.” – Alex Chrostowski, GAG Washington chapter leader, “Disruptive Behavior in the Classroom and Queer Theory,” GAG website, Feb. 15, 2023

“Show me one person who’s had all these surgeries and treatments who has made it to old age. I’ll wait.” – Lisa Bella, “I’d Rather Have a Trans Daughter Than a Dead Son,” GAG website, Nov. 9, 2022

“What would my life look like had I been ‘transed’ (transed – verb – assuming someone who is attracted to the same sex, or has interests of the opposite gender, that they are trapped in the wrong body. Example: ‘Haley got transed into being a dude cause she likes football and vagina.’) Well, I know I wouldn't be as healthy as I am now. I wouldn’t be as grounded, stable, secure. I wouldn’t accept myself for who I am. I’d have LOADS of identity issues, and my dating pool would be cut to 0.” – GAG ambassador Haley Shane, “Where Have all the Tom Boys Gone?” GAG website, Nov. 4, 2022

“The modern day ‘Trans Rights Activists’ are largely to blame for providing a safe space for predators to hide in. Once an understood rarity, these trans activists are now attempting to encourage children to follow in their footsteps as early as possible.” – Judith Rose, GAG director of communication, “‘Groomer’ is NOT an anti-LGBTQ+ Slur,” GAG website, Nov. 3, 2022

“Straight people really don’t have a voice in this because they’re instantly written off as hateful and bigots and all of the phobics in the world. ... And they’re gonna have a much harder time calling us those things [“groomers”]. So it’s going to take those of us within the actual community to finally you know, put it into it. And that’s what we’re going to do.

“I don’t think that any kid […] should be learning about this stuff [sex education] until they’re well into their teen years. I mean, like 16, 17, 18.

“When the trans movement really started rising, and I think that that is what led, what really started to push things […] over the edge.

“I mean, Pride Month, you cannot look anywhere for two seconds, and not see a rainbow. It’s like, you know, gay people make up about 7% of the country. And, you know, the whole country and the whole world is being blasted with this for 30 days. But you know, America only gets one day.” – Jaimee Michell interviewed on “Gays Against Groomers Founder Discusses New Coalition to Stop the Sexualization of Children” episode, Wendy Bell Radio, July 1, 2022


Gays Against Groomers Inc. was incorporated in Wisconsin in September 2022 and received tax-exempt status from the IRS in March 2023. The group was founded by Jaimee Michell, the president and director of marketing who previously worked for a conservative social media firm, X Strategies – a company that “was previously implicated in a scheme involving paying online influencers as young as 14 years old to run ads for Trump insiders, including the campaign’s Election Defense Fund.” Michell also has a history of spreading QAnon and 2020 election conspiracy theories through her social media accounts. Michell’s fiancée, Sasha Leigh, serves as GAG’s treasurer and human resources manager, according to the group’s website. Other members of GAG’s leadership and former leadership, including David Leatherwood (former GAG secretary) and Marky (Mark-David) Hutt, previously led pro-Trump social media pages.

By its own admission in early 2023, GAG has “assisted in passing sixteen regulations, laws, and guidelines that ban ‘gender identity.’” It continues to engage in disingenuous youth advocacy against trans rights to protect white cis-supremacy.

#SaveOurChildren and continuing QAnon conspiracy

GAG operates on the premise that LGBTQ+ people and their allies who support gender-affirming health care, champion inclusive education policies and oppose restrictions on LGBTQ+ expression in public are “groomers” of children, a slur often used to justify repression of minoritized groups by dominant members of society. GAG, however, is notable because it is led by many self-identified gays and lesbians, some of whom often claim to have been victimized by the same slurs they hurl at others.

The deployment of “groomer” rhetoric against trans people and their allies is a continuation of QAnon conspiracies – and GAG leaders’ involvement with the movement prior to founding GAG. Michell, for example, has shared QAnon conspiracies and trafficked in QAnon rhetoric including the infamous “Pizzagate” conspiracy, which claimed Democratic politicians were hiding a child sex-trafficking ring at a pizza restaurant in Washington, D.C. The conspiracy, of course, famously led to a 2016 shooting.

QAnon fueled the renewed popularity of the slogan #SaveOurChildren, which is rooted in anti-LGBTQ+ hostility but has been used to defame and delegitimize almost all minoritized groups’ calls for civil rights by implying minoritized people are more likely to harm children. Like Anita Bryant before them, contemporary right-wing extremists adopted the phrase as a litmus test of conservative loyalists and ignited a campaign of anti-LGBTQ+ legal, legislative and physical violence across the country. GAG’s leadership has argued that perpetuating the myth that LGBTQ+ people harm children helps defend gays and lesbians. Michell, for example, in an interview with Tucker Carlson, said, “Saying that ‘groomer’ is an anti-LGBTQ+ slur, that is doing irreparable damage to us [gays and lesbians] as a whole, and it’s putting a really large target on our backs.”

GAG has attempted to harness the energy of QAnon conspiracies by enlisting its leaders from among the QAnon movement, but also by recruiting adherents of other conspiratorial and extremist ideologies including COVID-19 and anti-vaccination conspiracies, 2020 election conspiracists, antigovernment militias, anti-Muslim extremists and white supremacists, and hate groups such as the Proud Boys. On July 10, 2023, for example, the primary GAG X (formerly Twitter) account retweeted a GAG member from Arizona who shared: “Being a part of [GAG] is the most powerful F-U to the deep state I can muster.” The “deep state” is an antigovernment conspiracy popularized by such right-wing figures as Alex Jones in reference to a supposed cabal of liberal elites who are working to destroy the U.S. from within the government.

In an extension of the “groomer” rhetoric – which GAG uses to target those who advocate for gender-affirming care or LGBTQ+ rights – GAG also spreads disinformation about trans people and gender-affirming health care under the same false pretense of protecting children. For example, GAG has compared gender-affirming care to Nazi eugenics, tweeting on April 11, 2023: “The majority of children who receive ‘gender-affirming care’ are severely mentally ill or autistic. Many of these kids end up sterilized. The people doing this are eugenicists. They are eliminating the ‘undesirables.’ This has happened before.” The tweet linked to an article that discusses the use of medical sterilization by Nazi eugenicists. GAG’s Jaimee Michell has also perpetuated the same propaganda.

In a tweet on the same day, GAG shared a graphic picture of a person who has ostensibly undergone “bottom surgery” or genital reconstructive surgery (although there is no way to verify the authenticity of the photo) with a caption suggesting the presence of a post-operative infection. In the tweet, GAG claims, “Surgical procedures like THIS [sic] are being performed on kids,” even though no major American medical organization recommends bottom surgery for minors as part of a gender-affirming health care plan.

From QAnon to its anti-trans disinformation campaign, GAG relies on the false characterization that it is protecting children. By limiting health care options, restricting LGBTQ+ representation in schools and engaging in intimidation campaigns, GAG is maintaining homophobic and transphobic oppression that jeopardizes the health and safety of children and the stability of American civil society.

Weaponizing LGBTQ+ voices against marginalized groups

GAG bills itself as a grassroots group of gays and lesbians. The group’s former director of chapters, Mario Estrada, even claimed he left the group because it became a “No Straights Allowed” club. Claiming to represent LGBTQ+ people has given GAG some credibility in mainstream and far-right media, and among some Republican politicians, who characterize the group as whistleblowers calling out the supposed excesses and dangers of LGBTQ+ movement activism. For example, two of the group’s leaders, Michell and current co-director of chapters Chris Barrett, appeared on the Megyn Kelly podcast on July 12, 2023, and Michell makes regular appearances in Fox News stories, including a June 2023 story that apparently used Michell and GAG to support a false claim that the Progress Pride flag “promotes grooming and pedophilia.” Under intense criticism, Fox News changed the headline of the story, but left as an aside the statement, “Some [are] even saying that in their opinion, it appears to reference a cult of pedophilia infecting many institutions and represents an unwanted takeover of traditional gay symbolism.”

Despite its repeated claim that it cannot be anti-LGBTQ+ because its members are almost exclusively LGBTQ+, the group’s foundational ideologies – and the rhetoric it uses – are grounded in the assumptions that LGBTQ+ identity is not normal. In an April 2023 tweet, for example, the group explicitly said, “Heteronormativity [the assumption that people who are not heterosexual are abnormal] is an immutable truth.”

Similarly, GAG claims it is not anti-trans; however, the group seems to tokenize trans participants in its activism and rhetoric, appearing to view trans experiences as valuable only when they can be co-opted or used to extoll negative experiences associated with transition-related health care. For example, on its website in response to the question “Why won’t GAG denounce the T entirely?” – which implies the group already partially denounces trans identity – the group says that trans “voices are vital in exposing how transitioning can affect a child. [...] They have first hand experience with the medications and procedures that we as gay people do not. We must work together to end the transing [sic] of children being done in our names.”

GAG founder Jaimee Michell has also claimed that trans people represent “just another way to try to get lesbians to somehow want to be with men” and admitted “the notion” of trans people experiencing same-sex attraction “makes me cringe, it makes me uncomfortable.” While claiming to “welcome trans voices that align with our mission,” the statements appear to deny the humanity and existence of trans people who do not share their goals of ending gender-affirming care and drag performances. Even then, GAG’s leadership appears to have internalized the transphobia the group regularly promotes.

GAG has, in fact, partnered with anti-trans detransitioners – people who previously benefited from gender-affirming care, but stopped transitioning and now work to end gender-affirming care for others – and with trans people who seek to deny gender-affirming care to others. Anti-LGBTQ+ groups often exploit the narratives of detransitioners for their own gain and overstate the frequency of detransitioning – denying research that shows that as many as 80% of trans people who detransition do so because of negative social pressure, not because they no longer identify as trans.

For example, GAG participated in an October 2022 rally in Anaheim, California, featuring anti-trans detransitioner Chloe Cole. And in March 2023, GAG rallied in support of Missouri’s gender-affirming care ban – authored by the anti-LGBTQ+ hate group Family Research Council – alongside Scott Newgent, a self-identified trans man who advocates against gender-affirming care, to put pressure on state legislatures to adopt the ban and pressure the Washington University Transgender Center to end gender-affirming care. At the rally, GAG Missouri chapter leader Chris Barrett dismissed trans identity, claiming most trans kids are “just gay” kids who are being forced to transition by their parents and permissive medical practices. GAG used similar rhetoric at the Anaheim, California, rally where participants held signs reading, “Stop Transing [sic] Gay Kids.”

Michell has also claimed gender-affirming care and public expressions of LGBTQ+ identity contribute to negative attitudes toward gays and lesbians and suggested stemming the tide of anti-gay sentiment motivates her anti-trans activism. Michell has claimed that gays and lesbians have previously “achieved equality” and that the recent work of “TQ+ activists” is about achieving “supremacy,” forcing radical ideologies and “insanity” on society, especially children. GAG’s former secretary, David Leatherwood, said, “I am so resentful that these radical trans terrorists have hijacked the LGBT community and are now destroying the reputation of gay and lesbian Americans.”

GAG’s director of communications, Judith Rose, is more explicit, blaming “modern day ‘Trans Rights Activists’” for “providing a safe space for predators to hide in.” Rose claims gays and lesbians were “perfectly happy with what the community had already achieved” prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage. Since then, Rose claims, the gay and lesbian “narrative” was “harnessed by something dark and sinister that opened the door for pedophiles and child grooming.”

In the wake of the mass shooting at Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, GAG’s violent anti-trans rhetoric escalated. GAG ambassador Ethan Harsell, who unsuccessfully ran for the North Dakota House of Representatives in 2022, for example, equated trans people with the Taliban, calling them a “parasitic cult,” and said GAG “completely rejects this monstrosity of a movement.” Harsell also falsely claimed trans rights activists “openly encourage” violence and called on “gay adults” to “overthrow” trans rights claiming it is, “not discriminatory to condemn [...] brainwashed psychopaths who murder and disfigure children.” Harsell said gays and lesbians will “never forgive” trans people for existing alongside gays and lesbians.

In an April blog post about a bill introduced in the U.S. House known as the “Trans Bill of Rights,” GAG said of “TQI+” people (an acronym GAG sometimes uses to refer to trans, intersex and other queer people): “They have officially declared war” on gay people who “are being legally, socially, and hormonally mandated out of existence in the name of ‘transgender rights.’” The same post calls trans people part of “a bloodthirsty cult” and refers to all trans people as “groomer[s].” The group appears to advocate “burning” trans people “to the ground,” advising readers to “roll up your sleeves and get to work.”

The group has claimed to represent “millions” of gays and lesbians like Harsell who want to “reclaim the community we once called our own” and has described its mission to “put an end” to the “insanity” of the modern LGBTQ+ movement’s “alphabet religion.” On their website, however, the group claims a little over 100 actual members. Both statements make clear the group views gays and lesbians as the only legitimate heirs of the Gay Liberation Movement and demonstrates its contempt for the racial diversity inherent to the LGBTQ+ movement and its gender-critical motivations.

Other members of the group echo this rhetoric, reading it into public comments and legislative hearings across the country. Alex Chrostowski, GAG Washington leader, for example, testified before the Washington state legislature on March 16, 2023, against HB 1469 – a bill that would prevent the state from cooperating with other states that seek to prosecute Washington health care providers who offer reproductive and gender-affirming care services – saying, “We do not approve of this being passed in our name.”

Trans identity as a threat to white cis-supremacy

GAG members have also attempted to use their gay identities to claim space to criticize other civil rights movements and attack democracy – often positioning themselves as legitimate victims and others, such as Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters, as responsible for their own oppression.

David Leatherwood, for example, has previously claimed white privilege is a “racist lie,” shared posts calling BLM a “terrorist organization,” “violent,” and “dangerous,” and bragged about “fighting back” on Jan. 6, 2021. Michell has referred to George Floyd, whose murder by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin sparked an international interest in the BLM movement, as “Fentanyl Floyd” in online commentary. In 2020, GAG New York chapter leader Marky Hutt (Mark-David Hutt), who also founded the LGBTrump Facebook group, was arrested twice in one weekend for defacing a Black Lives Matter mural. In a tweet about the vandalism, he wrote, “We need to STAND UP and take our country back” from the anti-racist movement.

Michell has also been accused of trafficking in “great replacement” rhetoric and Nazi symbolism, and GAG North Carolina leader Brian Talbert – who founded Deplorable Pride – threatened to kill “every single” Muslim in a post citing a claimed threat against Christians in Trinidad and Tobago and used other derogatory anti-Muslim language in online comments.

The racist remarks and attacks on BLM are accompanied by GAG’s insinuations that BLM illicitly funds gender-affirming health care and that trans identity is a threat to white cis-supremacy. Calling all expressions of LGBTQ+ identity “sexualized” and thus inappropriate for certain audiences is a convenient vehicle for censoring information and controlling the lives and bodies of students as well as the medical treatment options for parents of trans children. However, GAG has also explicitly linked their false claims to racialized fears that “transing” is targeting white children, specifically.

Connecting the group’s anti-inclusive education ideology – which motivates their opposition to LGBTQ+ subjects in public schools – with racialized fear on behalf of white children, GAG ambassador Sara Higdon, who is also sometimes listed as the communications director for Trans Against Groomers, has specifically claimed trans identity is most likely to develop among “upper middle class white kids of progressive parents” (even though trans people are more likely to identify as Latinx). Higdon claims “critical theory” in schools has “conditioned” these white children to believe they are an “oppressor” and the only way to “escape” their oppressed status is to “join an oppressed class” by identifying as trans.

GAG Washington leader Alex Chrostowski continues this line of thought, claiming, “There seems to be a perverse race to the bottom” in which students seek to “prove their own claims about how ‘disadvantaged’ they are” by feigning mental illness and displaying “increasingly disruptive attitudes or behaviors in class.” These behaviors are brought about, Chrostowski claims, by access to information and a permissive social climate that “celebrates any divergence from the norm, ie white, straight, cisgender” and treats whiteness and heterosexuality as “if they are to be barely tolerated.”

GAG’s response is a totalitarian approach, including censoring educational material and focusing on “technology” that “must be severely limited and controlled” to prevent young people from accessing information about LGBTQ+ identity. The ideology draws on the discredited theory of rapid-onset gender dysphoria, which claims trans identity is transmitted through social contagion. Combined with a racialized fear that trans identity can undermine white cis-supremacy, GAG justifies eliminating the perceived threat to white children by censoring information about LGBTQ+ experiences, controlling access to all technology and banning gender-affirming health care.

Intimidation campaigns

GAG has engaged in threats and intimidation, targeting individuals, advocating violence against trans people, and participating in events with other groups known for anti-LGBTQ+ violence. In December 2022, Moms for Liberty hosted a rally in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, featuring GAG’s Jordan Toste and Anthony Rai (aka Conservative Ant) as speakers with Proud Boys in attendance. GAG’s former director of chapters Mario “Presents” Estrada is closely affiliated with Proud Boys, the hate group whose former leaders have been convicted of seditious conspiracy and whose chapters have targeted LGBTQ+ and reproductive justice events with violence and intimidation across the country, having appeared at events with the group and in photos wearing Proud Boys paraphernalia.

In a blog post announcing he “parted ways” with GAG, Estrada claimed credit for “creating a ground team that could [...] coordinate and build rapport within local communities.” However, Estrada lamented in his farewell message, “Was I wrong for wanting to take an internet movement into the real world?” “Absolutely not,” he said, “but the real world and the internet are very different places.”

Throughout 2022 and 2023, GAG members staged in-person events, participating in demonstrations, protests, testifying in legislatures, and sometimes disrupting local school board meetings. Estrada admitted that the group paid for at least some of his travel expenses when he traveled longer distances to participate.

Michell, too, participates in this “ground team,” appearing in 2023 at the Moms for Liberty Summit in Philadelphia. The “ground team” has also included rallies with Moms for Liberty chapters across the country, the antigovernment group No Left Turn in Education, and the antigovernment militia Three Percenters in Washington.

As Estrada also admitted, the internet and “real world” are different places. Like other anti-LGBTQ+ social media accounts, GAG’s social media pages intimidate people by posting personally identifiable information, and leveling accusations against individuals, including doctors.

LGBTQ+ Politicians

In December 2022, Erik Bottcher, an openly gay New York City Council member, reported harassing phone calls and protests outside his office after attending a drag story hour. Bottcher later reported that two women who “were a part of Gays Against Groomers” graffitied his office and, while he was attending synagogue, entered his apartment building, and were arrested for trespassing. The women used the same rhetoric employed by GAG to demonize LGBTQ+ people in public life. On Dec. 20, 2022, Bottcher tweeted a video of the people he identified as drag story hour protesters assaulting one of his neighbors.

In March 2023, GAG shared a doctored photo of openly gay California state Sen. Scott Wiener holding a book with the title altered to read, “SB 107 How to Legally Kidnap Children by Scott Wiener.” The tweet was in reference to a bill Wiener authored to protect trans kids and their families who might flee persecution in other states. In 2022, Sen. Wiener repeatedly received death and bomb threats using the same dangerous “grooming” rhetoric spread by GAG. In April 2023, the group again targeted Sen. Wiener, calling him a “disgusting pedophile” who “doesn’t belong in office” and calling on its members to “fight heinous groomers like him and defend innocent children.”

Pride, LGBTQ+ Spaces and Events

In March 2023, GAG’s social media pages targeted a drag brunch event in Washington state, identifying a brewery and threatening to “launch a full-scale operation against you” [...] “should you not heed this warning” to age-restrict the event. The same night, the business was vandalized. After the vandalism, GAG’s Washington chapter leader, Alex Chrostowski, posted a video noting that “it is very likely” the vandals targeted the business because it was hosting a drag show. The group’s director of communications, Judith Rose, later tweeted that age-restricting the drag show was one of GAG’s “many accomplishments” and that there was “much more to come.”

The group continued to share locations and contact information for venues hosting drag and pride events throughout 2023. In the months before 2023 LGBTQ+ Pride season – typically beginning in June commemorating the events of the Stonewall Uprising in June 1969 – GAG’s leadership posted a series of ominous messages directed toward attendees of the year’s Pride celebrations across the country.

On March 18, Michell tweeted, “This summer’s culture war is gonna look a lot different this year now that we’re in the game.” The same day, the Illinois chapter, led by Patrick Sheridan, added: “This year, Gays Against Groomers will not stand for this destruction of childhood innocence. Be seeing you REAL soon.” The tweets were accompanied by a donation solicitation and an image that read, “Help us Fight Pride; we have big plans to combat the radicals’ war on children this Pride Month, but we need your help!” The image features two white children holding Progress Pride Flags – which include Black and Brown stripes representing LGBTQ+ people of color.

A longer message posted by the group’s primary X (formerly Twitter) account indicated GAG planned to rent billboard trucks, fund anti-Pride protests in “every major city during June,” book booths at Pride events, “and so much more.”

In one of the most ominous and violent messages from GAG in the run-up to 2023 Pride season, the group posted an unattributed article in April 2023 in response to the introduction of a measure in the U.S. House of Representatives called the Transgender Bill of Rights. At the conclusion of the post, the group calls on its members to “roll up your sleeves and get to work,” “burning this cult [trans people] to the ground,” adding, “you’re either with us or against us.”

The post specifically listed LGBTQ+ rights groups who supported the introduction of the Trans Bill of Rights and identified the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) as a lead contributor to the bill. The post falsely claimed, “One of the people in charge of Movement Advancement Project (MAP) [...] openly identifies as a pedophile herself.” The post showed what appears to be a doctored photo using the MAP logo juxtaposed with a byline from someone not affiliated with the group. GAG’s only justification for making the false claim appears to be that the person they identified claimed to be a minor-attracted person, designated by the acronym “m.a.p.” in internet slang, which is the same three-letter acronym generated from the first three letters of the Movement Advancement Project’s name.

Some online commenters pointed out the false claim when GAG turned the blog post into a X (formerly Twitter) thread containing the same false allegations. One tweet (#3) in the five-part thread that shared a suspicious image linking the Movement Advancement Project with an unknown social media platform GAG purported to be that of “one of the people in chart of Movement Advancement Project” was eventually deleted, although GAG did not respond to users’ queries as to why.

Within four days of posting the thread, it received more than 100,000 views and was followed by a Facebook post two days later. A subsequent tweet by the GAG Illinois chapter account that shared the image naming the Movement Advancement Project received over 150,000 views and included the message: “If the American people do not do something soon, it will be legal to f*** kids. The government will eventually enforce it. These monsters are coming after ALL children. They are consuming them. The ‘Trans Bill of Rights’ will be the end of all things good and beautiful.”

After the X (formerly Twitter) thread went live, some GAG social media followers turned to Movement Advancement Project’s social media posts to leave harassing messages, repeating the false claims originating with GAG’s blog.

In April 2023, the group admitted on X (formerly Twitter) that its members had put up stickers with the message “no child is born in the wrong body” with a QR code linking to GAG’s website throughout West Hollywood, California. The WeHo Times noted, “The graffiti in West Hollywood happened a week before WeHo City and the Los Angeles LGBT Center team up with over 40 LGBTQ+ organizations, faith groups, queer and trans activists, and drag artists host Drag March LA on Easter Sunday.”

On May 20, 2023, GAG’s North Carolina chapter reported on X (formerly Twitter) that their leader, Talbert, had been “trespassed from” a local business where GAG has sponsored an ongoing protest over the venue’s drag show. Talbert was previously photographed holding a sign that read, “Drag queens who perform for children deserve prison,” and later filmed himself confronting patrons and accosting a woman and her daughter outside the same venue, calling the unidentified person “mentally deranged” and accusing her of “grooming” her child for attending an event at the venue.

In September 2023, GAG shared a video featuring Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes and U.K. anti-Muslim activist Tommy Robinson, who lauded the organization for “driv[ing] that big wedge for the world to see between the gay community and this mad sexualization of children.” In the video, Robinson claims common cause with the group, saying, “They’re called all the same things” as Robinson. He also said he was in contact with GAG.

The same month, GAG announced plans to host a national “Stop the War on Children Rally” in October 2023, mimicking an event held in Canada protesting LGBTQ+ inclusion in schools. GAG partnered with 13 organizations: Mom Army, Dad Army, Fathers for Freedom, Moms for America, Partners for Ethical Care, Our Duty, Blexit Foundation, Freedom Forever, Leave Our Kids Alone, Veterans for Child Rescue, Freedom Angels Foundation, Patrice’s Kids and Parents on Patrol.