Ethan Schmidt, a 24-year-old right-wing extremist, sparked fear and concern within the LGBTQ+ community after he released a video in which he threatened to "hunt" down LGBTQ+ allies during Pride Month festivities.
In his video, Schmidt, who is shown riding in a vehicle alongside the self-described “authoritarian Christian nationalist" Kyle Clifton, says he plans on “exposing” the “Satanic Pride shrines for children” and will target LGBTQ-supportive employees at Target retail stores.
The video garnered significant social media attention after it was posted by PatriotTakes, an account dedicated to tracking far-right movements.
You can hear what Schmidt said in the video below.
“We’re not going to let corporate poison the children."
"So Target, we’re just giving you a heads up that we’re going to be coming after you hard…. This is going to be next-level stuff.”
“I also like to hunt LGBT supporters on my free time."
"That’s one of my favorite pastimes…. We’re going to be going on hunting expeditions pretty soon, y’know, hunting LGBT supporters across Phoenix and Arizona…."
"If you support the LGBT agenda, you’re not safe. You’re not safe. Right, Kyle?”
The video prompted Target to acknowledge the threat, saying it was working with its corporate security team in addition to its partners to ensure its staff's safety.
The video quickly went viral and many expressed outrage, urging the LGBTQ+ community to remain vigilant.
Concerns about attacks on the LGBTQ+ community are not unfounded.
In June 2016, the nationwide community was devastated by a mass shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in which 49 people—many of whom were Hispanic people of color who had gathered for a "Latin Night" of music and dancing—were senselessly murdered.
The shooting was the deadliest mass shooting by a single shooter in the United States until it was surpassed the following year by the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, which resulted in 58 deaths. It was also the bloodiest incidence of violence against the LGBTQ+ community since the UpStairs Lounge arson attack of 1973.
Pride Month festivities that year were noticeably more somber though nonetheless more needed than ever, galvanizing a new generation of LGBTQ+ activists into action, a development that has proven indispensable in years since, particularly as Republican legislators have launched a wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation nationwide.