Proud of Your Boy: Notes on Leaving

Since the Proud Boys formed in 2016, some members are beginning to leave in a more…public fashion.

Some are like one Proud Boy I spoke to last summer when I was more actively interviewing members. He was on the verge of leaving when we spoke and we continued speaking after he left.

Here was one of his reasons for leaving.

“If everyone around you is an asshole, at some point do you take a step back and think, ‘I might be the asshole?’” -Former Proud Boy, Summer, 2018

At the beginning of this year, he contacted me with some strong words for a Proud Boy article I was interviewed in.

Contrary to popular Proud Boys beliefs, I’m not made of stone. I understand how hard it can be to establish new and healthier patterns after leaving a less than fulfilling relationship.

So after I took a few deep breaths and made myself some damn coffee, we started talking again.

After we came to a mutual understanding that he had not read the article, we continued speaking.

Here is how that conversation went…

Here is what he most recently said on what appears to be his final decision to stay out of the group.

I don’t see rejoining the group happening. I think that at this stage in my life it’s not really a good place for me to be. A couple of factors enter in to this.

Number one is the company that I’m keeping there and I don’t know if that’s healthy to keep.

Number two is that even if the company were or largely is fine…umm…you know what? The optics are fucking shit.

-Former Proud Boy March 6th, 2019

To any Proud Boys or Proud Boys Girls Who Might be Reading This

Many of you might fear the repercussions of leaving. Many might feel like if you can convince yourselves the group is not as bad as everyone is making them out to be that you will be fine. That you’re fighting for what’s good and everything is bound to blow over.

I would never tell you what was best for you, but I would like to tell you how I understand family, friendship, and brotherhood.

I feel I can relate to what some Proud Boys and Proud Boys Girls might be experiencing after seeing people like Vittorio leave.

After I graduate, I will be continuing to a doctoral program. It’s an opportunity I can’t pass up. It means I’ll have to move from communities I love to a new city I’ve never been to in order pursue my research.

It means I’ll have to leave some of my closest friends.

I left my hometown once to pursue my first degrees. Leaving my grandfather was the hardest decision I had to make, but he understood and supported my decision, just as my friends understand that I have to go where my research takes me. They support my decision to leave. I love them and will miss them all the worse for that.

I am not here to tell anyone what to do, whether to stay or leave, but I do want you to know, whatever decision you make, your real brothers and sisters, they’ll support you, even if it means losing you as a member. That’s what friendship and brotherhood are like.

Now…maybe you are not experiencing this level of support right now in your current chapter.

Let’s say you are wondering if the Proud Boys are what’s best for you. Leaving doesn’t necessarily mean ending your friendships, just as me leaving my current city doesn’t mean ending my friendships.

If however, you express hesitations about staying in the group and your brothers turn on you, if they threaten to harm you, they call you a liar or hurl insults at you…were they really your brothers to begin with? I don’t mean insults that convey affection, and camaraderie, but insults that reveal how little you may have mattered to them.

Enrique Tarrio commenting on Vittorio’s decision to leave

You should do what is ultimately right for you and your real friends, your real brothers and sisters will support you, no matter what you decide.

If you are a Proud Boy or Proud Boys Girl who is considering leaving, I’d love to hear from you.

You don’t have to go it alone.

Researcher | #ProudBoys whisperer| Khalifa Ihler Fellow Take the Glitterpill