Don Grundmann, one of the organizers of the “straight pride” rally, in 2008 protesting gay marriage outside the California Supreme Court.
A failed US Senate candidate who believes that the LGBTQ community is waging a “cultural attack” on society is planning a “straight pride” rally in Northern California to promote “whiteness” and “Western civilization,” and is asking members of a far-right extremist group to show up in force.
Don Grundmann, founder and director of the National Straight Pride Coalition, recently submitted a special event permit application to hold the Stanislaus County Straight Pride Parade/Event — a thinly veiled white supremacist rally — at a park in Modesto next month.
Grundmann, a 67-year-old chiropractor based in San Jose, told BuzzFeed News that the event aims to celebrate masculinity, femininity, “the natural family of man, woman, and children,” babies, “Western civilization,” Christianity, and “whiteness.”
“A celebration of life is just a celebration of natural functions of heterosexuality which are under attack actually, culturally in our society,” Grundmann said. “All those things we are defending and celebrating and that makes up the core of our beliefs.”
The LGBTQ movement, he said, “is a massive multibillion dollar social engineering movement to destroy the foundations of our culture,” resulting in a “24/7 psychological war against the appearance of conscience.”
On its website, the National Straight Pride Coalition claims the “inherent superiority” of whiteness, Christianity, Western civilization, and heterosexuality.
The event, scheduled for Aug. 24 at Graceada Park, has sparked outrage in the Central Valley city with many calling on officials to deny the permit, but officials may not have the legal grounds to do so.
“Although the city may not share in the beliefs of some groups who choose to hold events here, the city cannot deny a permit based on an organization’s values or the views of the speakers,” Reeves told BuzzFeed News.
He said city officials were in the final stages of reviewing the application and could decide whether to approve it by the end of this week.
A similar event is being planned in Boston for Aug. 31, but if the Modesto event moves forward it would likely be the first such public event in the country, according to Grundmann.
He estimates 500 people will attend and said he has invited members of the Proud Boys, a group that proclaims itself to be “Western chauvinists” and has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“Any Proud Boy who wants to come is welcome to come,” said Grundmann, who recently joined the group’s Modesto chapter. “We support everything that they’re doing.”
Gavin McInnes, founder of the Proud Boys, is surrounded by supporters after speaking at a rally in Berkeley, California.
The Bay Area chiropractor said he was inspired to put on the event after reading a column last year by then-Dixon vice mayor Ted Hickman proclaiming July “Straight Pride American Month.” Hickman faced widespread backlash for the piece and was voted out of office months later.
“He was the originator and we’re just carrying forth that idea but in a much more expansive way,” said Grundmann, a longtime opponent of gay marriage.
The goal, he said, is to start straight pride chapters in other parts of the country, ideally in every state.
“Our motto is normal, natural, healthy, sane,” Grundmann said. “We’re representing … everything that’s normal, natural, healthy, sane and bringing it to the nation.”
Grundmann has run several unsuccessful campaigns for state legislature and Congress since the early 1990s, first as a Republican, then as a member of the American Independent Party. He now runs all of his campaigns under the Constitution Party of California, which has not qualified to appear as a political party on the state ballot.
On his most recent campaign website, Grundmann calls for a ban on gay marriage, sealing the Mexico border, abolishing the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Reserve System, and a ban on “all vaccinations of children.”
He said he ultimately created the straight pride coalition, which is currently only active in California, this year in response to drag queen story hours, which he described as part of “a broad attack against society.”
“What we need to do as counter protesters is to make a loud declaration of what Modesto’s values really area, and they are acceptance and tolerance and overriding belief in equality,” Ricci said.
The 47-year-old Modesto resident said he believes the organizers of the straight pride rally have the right to put on the event but expressed concern about the potential financial hit the city could take as a result of the event and the protests it’s expected to attract.
When conservative political commentator Ann Coulter spoke at a Republican Party of Stanislaus County event in 2017, it cost the city nearly $65,000 to staff police to secure the area as demonstrators protested her appearance.
“For a city like Modesto that doesn’t have a massive budget, that’s a huge hit,” Ricci said.
Grundmann said he expects anti-fascist counter protesters to show up, potentially setting up a clash between demonstrators. Anti-fascist protesters and far-right groups have recently gotten into violent confrontations in New York City and at demonstrations in Portland.
“Everyone hopes that it’s a peaceful situation and that everyone is able to express their opinions in a safe and respectable way,” Ricci said.
*see full story by Buzzfeed News