A Proud Boy Origins Story

Comedian Dante Nero, a dear friend of mine found out the hard way what The Proud Boys truly were. Learn from his mistake and don’t fall into the same trap.

The first time I heard about the Proud Boys was after the events of Charlottesville. Since then the Proud Boys have gone from being led by political nutjob Gavin McInnis to the leader of the free world. Tuesday’s debate confirmed that.

“What do you want to call them,” President Trump said. “You want to call them Proud Boys? Ok stand down and stand by.”

The Proud Boys were created in large part by white men who felt marginalized. Even without Trump in office they were formed and in a short period of time have now arrived on a national stage. The history of this group is well documented on an an episode of NPR’s “This American Life” called “White Haze.” The podcast episode, which was fantastically done, reports about its creation by McInnis and ironically with the contributions of my dear friend and comedian Dante Nero.

For those of you that don’t know Dante, he’s an African American man who has become a relationship guru over the last couple of decades. I’ve personally seen Dante take men and women who were dismantled emotionally from a break up and built them back up. His theories, while some may not agree with, have worked on hundreds, if not thousands of people. Gavin was a fan of Dante’s and would often bring him on his podcast to talk to his fans about dating and relationship advice. On one of the episodes, Dante challenged Gavin to a competition of “no wanks,” which meant for the period of 30 days Gavin would not be allowed to pleasure himself but would only seek the companionship of his significant other. Dante would say “you are going to realize how desensitized you are just after a week or so.” His challenge to Gavin worked.

A month later Gavin would have Dante back on his podcast and proclaim he was a better man for it and would now challenge his fans. But this time Dante expressed “for those men out there that are doing this and are single you should also compliment 5 different women a day.” This addition to no wanks was so that men who have been afraid of talking to women or socializing in general now had an obligation to do it. It was also meant to increase social interaction with the opposite sex in a healthy way instead of viewing them as the sexual objects a person might normally use during masturbation.

The response was resounding. Dante would hear from hundreds of people over the next 2 or 3 months and eventually Gavin would create a name for this new way of life. In addition to his right wing view on what an American should be he added Dante’s teachings and then called it The Proud Boys. Suddenly chapters of this group started springing up in cities all over this country. Dante was shocked at the response it got. Fans started calling him the “Pope of No Wanks” and despite the Proud Boys being predominately white men, Dante was looked at as one of its founding fathers. The movement was real. Dante went along with it because it felt like he was reaching people he normally wouldn’t and if he could help men well then that was a good thing.

It wasn’t until after a few chapter meetups that Dante started questioning the group’s motives. By that point The Proud Boys had members into the tens of thousands. There were a set of 3 or 4 steps to becoming a Proud Boy one of them was getting a tattoo some where visible on your body. For Dante it was right on the left side of his neck for all to see. And then Charlottesville happens. As the story goes at a Proud Boy chapter meet up and couple of what Gavin called “rogue” individuals planned everything they were going to do. After the events Gavin denounced them publicly, but the damage was done. Despite what their “leader” said the balls were in motion. There was nothing you could do to stop it, eerily similar to the movie Fight Club, where Ed Norton’s character tries to stop something he started.

When approached by NPR, Dante had no idea The Proud Boys were behind Charlottesville. He would go on to talk about his involvement innocently until the NPR reporter hit him with the bomb. In all the years I’ve known Dante he’s a lot of things, quiet is not one of them. Just listening to him on the podcast trying to find the words, I could feel Dante’s heartbreaking. He was used by a now white supremacist group as a shield. Dante was heralded as a founding member someone they could point to when they were accused of hate.

Within a few months Dante had his tattoo removed and began to embark on a journey to repair the damage he may have caused. He continues to help men and women with relationships. He does outreach with some of the Proud Boys he met along the way, helping them to rehabilitate themselves after realizing what they truly stand for.

Somewhere over the last few years as battle lines have been drawn, confederate flags were replaced with Trump flags and Antifa took advantage of the Black Lives Matter movement for their own agenda. What we are witnessing here is the beginnings of a new type of civil war. Trump is completely consumed by Proud Boy propaganda, even going so far as to give them a shout out on national television. Neither Trump or Vice President Joe Biden have denounced these groups. They are warping minds by the thousands every day. Yet the men who are supposed to be our leaders can’t seem to live without them.

I didn’t have a problem with friends of mine who were Trump supporters until I started hearing Proud Boys rhetoric. On both sides make no mistake these groups are not interested in whats best for America, they are interested in whats best for their vision of America. Compromise and coming together are out of the question.

As Dante Nero went through the physical and emotional pain of removing two words from his neck he couldn’t help think about what he contributed to. What are we contributing to? In the next month as you decide who you are voting for pay close attention to the actions of these two groups. Both are ramping up for a war the election results will only decide who starts it.

Listen to NPR’s This American Life White Haze episode.

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