There’s officially a new safe place for the LGBTQ community: Gay Hell.
Last night, YouTube star and gay Twitter icon Elijah Daniel announced on Twitter that he took over and renamed Hell, a city in Michigan—dubbing it “Gay Hell” and pledging to fly only pride flags in town.
This action was neither intended to just be a viral stunt for the laughs nor a way to infuriate those who support the ban—though he was successful in doing both.
“Ahead of pride month,” Daniel explained, “Trump’s administration put a ban on embassy’s flying pride flags. So as of today, I am now the owner of Hell, Michigan. I bought the whole town. And my first act as owner, I have renamed my town to Gay Hell, MI. The only flags allowed to fly are pride.”
Current State Department policy requires embassies wanting to fly another flag underneath the American flag to request permission from the State Department. Embassies raising rainbow flags during June, which marks LGBTQ Pride Month, is a tradition that has been widely approved for almost the entire decade. Obama-era regulations on pride flags simply stated that rainbow flags had to be smaller than the American flag and must fly below it.
This year, however, officials in Germany, Brazil, Latvia and Israel reported that their standard requests to fly pride flags outside U.S. embassies in their localities had been denied. And in a televised interview Monday night, Vice President Mike Pence confirmed that all U.S. embassies have officially been banned from flying the flags.
Despite the ban, U.S. embassies have still found ways to show their support—by speaking out on Twitter or displaying pride in a more creative ways, embassies across the globe made sure to send a loud and clear message of support for LGBTQ folks this month.
In New Delhi, India, the U.S. embassy was lit up in rainbow lights. In Seoul, South Korea, officials hung a pride flag across the building in front of the flagpole. The U.S. Ambassador to Nepal tweeted a photo of himself along with the rest of the embassy staff dressed in rainbow attire clad with pride balloons. Diplomats in Jerusalem joined a March for Pride and Tolerance, with several ambassadors tweeting photos of themselves at various pride marches.
These acts of protest—by influential YouTubers or U.S. diplomats—are a powerful reminder that the anti-LGBTQ views of the Trump administration don’t reflect the views of communities across the country and around the world. During June, and in the current political moment, they’re as important as ever.