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Ethan Schmidt is a conservative right-wing activist that posts videos on Telegram of himself harassing employees when LGBTQ+ Pride flags are present in a store, such as Target and PetSmart. His viewpoint on LGBTQ culture is that it promotes pedophilia and sexualizes children, indicative of controversies like Drag The Kids To Pride and the use of the slang term "groomer." His videos first went viral in 2021 amid anti-mask content regarding COVID-19 skepticism. His videos are also similar to those made by Johnny Young.
ANTIMASKERSCLUB on Telegram
Ethan Schmidt's online presence started when he formed the ANTIMASKERSCLUB on Telegram in 2020, which became dedicated to anti-mask, anti-vaccination and COVID-19 skepticism. The Telegram group parallel posted its content to Instagram on its page @antimaskersclub, which was removed sometime in mid-2021. Schmidt started a new page for the club called @antimaskersclub2022 that made its first post on April 4th, 2021, consisting of a video of Dr. Fauci. It received roughly 1,000 views in one year (shown below).
Before the creation of its new Instagram account, the ANTIMASKERSCLUB and Schmidt drew criticism across social media for public harassment videos where they'd approach mask-wearing strangers and ask them to take them off. On July 16th, 2021, YouTuber Luneist posted a video about Schmidt titled, "Anti-Mask Club Douchebag," earning roughly 1,800 views in one year (shown below).
On April 1st, 2022, Schmidt made his first post to his new Instagram account under his own name, revealing in the post that by that time, the ANTIMASKERSCLUB Telegram group had reached over 9,000 subscribers.
Target Pride Flag Video
On March 11th, 2022, Schmidt posted in the ANTIMASKERSCLUB Telegram group, captioning it, "TRIGGERING PRIDE DEMONS AT TARGET." In the video, Schmidt harassed employees at a Target department store about having Gay Pride flags hung up around their store in anticipation of LGBTQ+ Pride Month. Within the Telegram group, the video received roughly 1,000 views in four months.
In late May 2022, Schmidt posted more videos on Telegram, including one of himself in the car with his friend Kyle on their way to a Target in Arizona. This video was reposted to Twitter on May 21st, 2022, by the Twitter account patriottakes where it earned roughly 702,800 views and 5,900 likes in two months (shown below).
Ethan Schmidt, a right wing provocateur who has made videos with Kari Lake, Wendy Rogers, and Paul Gosar, warned Target he will “hunt LGBT supporters” in their stores and across Phoenix in June, stating they “are not safe” and they “can’t hide.” pic.twitter.com/O3ReHVN3qY
— PatriotTakes 🇺🇸 (@patriottakes) May 21, 2022
Twitter's patriottakes added more videos to the thread on May 21st, including one tweet that attached a video of Schmidt harassing Target employees and walking around the store pointing out Pride merchandise. The video received roughly 122,100 views and 1,400 likes in two months (shown below).
Ethan Schmidt also visited a Target store and told an employee: “The pride, it offends me. …I'm gonna go after Target so hard that they're going to have to ban me from every single store. …Target, I'm going after you.” pic.twitter.com/EFMs8ObrYK
— PatriotTakes 🇺🇸 (@patriottakes) May 21, 2022
One moment from Schmidt's series of Target videos that earned notable engagement showed him approaching a female employee and asking her if she supported "Satanic Pride propaganda." She responded by saying, "both, yeah, Satan and Pride." This moment was tweeted by Twitter user Johnatron4000 on June 1st, 2022, captioning it, "Happy Pride to this queen," and earning roughly 1.3 million views and 73,000 likes in a month and a half (shown below).
Happy Pride to this queen pic.twitter.com/gTWH1ys4t5
— fka TiffanyTrumpVEVO (@Johnatron4000) June 1, 2022
PetSmart Pride Flag Video
On July 22nd, 2022, the Twitter account patriottakes reposted another Schmidt video of him harassing employees in a PetSmart about having Pride flags up around their store. Patriottakes' tweet received roughly 2.2 million views and 64,300 likes in three days (shown below, top). The video was also posted by the Twitter account of PopCrave on July 22nd, where it received roughly 2.8 million views and 88,700 likes in the same amount of time (shown below, bottom).
PetSmart manager stands up to Kari Lake supporter Ethan Schmidt, kicks him out of the store for harassing employees over a pride flag. pic.twitter.com/YGvFMG4cU9
— PatriotTakes 🇺🇸 (@patriottakes) July 22, 2022
PetSmart employees refuse to take down a pride flag after being harassed by far-right extremist and LGBTQIA+ “hunter” Ethan Schmidt. pic.twitter.com/YfL1C1BRoK
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) July 22, 2022
The PetSmart video earned many reactions on social media following the reposts. One of the primary reactions regarded when the PetSmart manager approached Schmidt and corrected him for saying "PetCo" and not "PetSmart." For instance, Twitter user stxnli tweeted a reply that attached a screenshot of the manager accompanied by his quote, earning roughly 30,200 likes in three days (shown below, left). Also on July 22nd, Twitter user kiwifxlls tweeted a screenshot of Schmidt and his handlebar mustache, captioning it, "worrying about a pride flag while having the generic supervillain mustache 😭," earning roughly 19,100 likes in three days (shown below, right).