In recent months, social media has exploded in laughter and condemnation, as a group of violent far-Right trolls connected to neo-Nazi and white nationalist groups have called for a “Straight Pride March” in Boston.
Now it seems, another group based in the town of Modesto, California is also taking up the banner of “straight pride” and calling for a rally on August 24th. According to the groups public Facebook page, the “California Straight Pride Coalition,” on top of of opposing homosexuality and people who are trans, also affirms the “superiority” of “whiteness” and the “Caucasian” race, along with “nationalism” and Western Civilization. Most disturbing is the fact that this white nationalist, homophobic, and transphobic online group which is organizing the Straight Pride rally includes Ryan Schambers, formerly on the Central Committee of the Stanislaus County Republican Party along with a pastor based in the San Jose region, among many others.
California Straight Pride Coalition
On July 17th, members of the California Straight Pride Coalition (CSPC) began posting photos of flyers advertising a “Straight Pride Parade” and “Event.” According to local news, the group has applied for a permit and is waiting for the City Council to grant it.
The flyer also includes a link to the groups website, NationalStraightPrideCoalition.org, a Go-Fund-Me account that seems to have been shut down, as well as a phone number that belongs to the group’s leader, Don J and a long time , a chiropractor in the bay area city of San Leandrocampaigner against gay marriage and LGBT rights.
At face value, some might dismiss the Straight Pride Event as simply a troll, or just a celebration of sexuality. “There’s Gay Pride, why not Straight Pride?” However the thrust of each is very different and comes from two very different places. Historically, Pride celebrates first and foremost queer and trans resistance, specifically the Stonewall Riots in New York in 1969, and the birth of the gay liberation movement. Pride was never about “superiority” over anything, but instead celebrating fighting to survive in a world that showed many nothing but brutality, hatred, and indifference. This is why for generations of people, Pride has become something fun and exciting that brings together all different kinds of people in affirming personal and collective autonomy, love, and expression.
The CSPC has a very different take. Like the far-Right and conspiracy websites Grundmann promotes and links too like InfoWars, CSPC believes that in the very real and material sense, there is a cultural war happening in the United States. They see abortion, gay and trans rights and feminism as the destruction of “Western Civilization” and America itself.
They write that their event is about “celebrating the inherent superiority of the following foundational principles of life which are under unprecedented, sustained, and coordinated attack within our society, culture, and nation.” They go on to state that “Heterosexuality” and the “the supremacy of the Natural Nuclear Family” is “the natural biological foundation for human life and its continuance and the ground upon which all civilization is built” and is “the unquestionable superior method/structure/institution by which to raise children who are ” normal, natural, healthy, sane.” They go on to state that, “there are only, and can only be, 2 genders.” By this they also mean that all other forms of families, relationships, and sexualities are also unnatural, sub-human, not normal, not healthy, insane, and also an attack on the “Western” way of life.
But who is waging this attack? According to the CSPC, it’s a shadowy cabal of “humanists” and “Satanists.” They write, that against so-called traditional values there is a:
….massive coordinated War equivalent attack by those who seek to destroy them for the purpose of establishing their own replacement religious belief system of Humanism/Satanism as the dominant and unassailable cultural and societal paradigm of a permanently enslaved humanity; i.e.; they desire the complete and total destruction of Christianity…[Our emphasis.]
Like all other sections of the far-Right, the CSPC has managed to turn the most marginalized and attacked people in society and make them into the oppressors. LGBT people aren’t people struggling to stop being killed and discriminated against in recorded numbers – no, they’re “Satanists” waging a violent war against Christianity! Black people don’t want the police to stop killing them and to stop inter-generational poverty – no, they just want to kill white people! Antifascists aren’t standing up to the violent Alt-Right which was connected to nearly every single act of politically motivated murder over the last few years – no, they just hate free speech!
The CSPC call to arms ends with framing their actions in terms of a war: “We hence, appealing to God for all of our needs in this great endeavor, invite all people of good will to join us in defense of our current and future generations in The War which is upon us.”
Straight Pride and White Nationalism
The California Straight Pride Coalition goes beyond it’s calls for a “War” against people who aren’t “straight,” it also lays out that it views “whiteness” and “Caucasians” as having “inherent superiority.”
Western Civilization ( ” the West is the Best ” ) – the Christian religion based social, cultural, and national cornerstone upon which the mass majority of all progress of humanity; i.e.; the modern world; has been built;
Whiteness/Caucasian – the mass majority biological racial component of the developers of western civilization;
Christianity – the religious foundation of the formation, development, and advancement of Western Civilization;
Nationalism – the patriotic love of their nation and its interests, principles, and future that motivated the formulators of and in the development of Western Civilization.
In the eyes of the CSPC, not only are non-straight people not normal, natural, or sane, but that according to them, all “good” things in society come from the white, European, Western countries, the Christian religion, nationalistic obedience to the State, and also the “biological racial…developers of western civilization” itself, the “Caucasian” race. In this world view, only White, Christian, nuclear families with children are normal and natural, and everything else is a Satanic uprising against God himself.
It should also be noted that the slogan, “The West is the Best,” is also that of the far-Right and pro-Trump street gang The Proud Boys, linked with violent assaults and attacks across the country. Various members of the group had a role in organizing and attending the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. Their founder, Gavin McInnes, who has written for white nationalist publications arguing against blacks and whites living together and got his job at the paleoconservative magazine Taki’s form white nationalist Richard Spencer, once stated:
I love being white and I think it’s something to be very proud of. I don’t want our culture diluted. We need to close the borders now and let everyone assimilate to a Western, white, English-speaking way of life.
Don J and MyLinda Mason
The founder of the CSPC, Don J Grundman, is a life long anti-LGBT activist, who across the decades, has attempted to run unsuccessfully for political office and build a political party. Grundmann works in the bay area in the city of San Leandro as a chiropractor. If Grundman looks familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen him protesting in Modesto and in other places across California against everything from Pride events to marriage equality rallies.
In a video recorded in 2010 while Grundmann was protesting the Modesto Pride celebration, he declared, “This is a whole congregation of people who like evil,” while pointing around him at the hundreds gathered at Graceada Park, the same location Grundmann plans to rally at in August.
Writing about Grundmann in 2018, The Advocate wrote:
But one candidate for U.S. senator from California has used his space in the state’s voter guide to publish a noxious anti-transgender screed.
“There is no such thing as ‘transgender,’” writes Don J. Grundmann, a Bay Area chiropractor running as an independent. “It does not exist. What does exist are broken people who pretend to be the opposite sex and even mutilate themselves in the attempt.” It gets worse, as he calls acceptance of transgender people “a form of child molestation.”
His campaign website — which is titled Fight-the-Power.org and displays Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover on the home page — equates homosexuality with pedophilia, saying, “The legalization of homosexual marriage will virtually ensure that this real goal; the normalization of child molestation; will be achieved.”
On the site, Grundmann also decries “the end of masculinity,” which he blames primarily on the transgender rights movement, rails against abortion, and calls for an end to the Federal Reserve and the Internal Revenue Service. He doesn’t like a whole lot of other things as well — Social Security, public schools, vaccines, Planned Parenthood, and immigration.
— Mylinda Mason (@MylindaMason) September 1, 2017
Grundmann’s main follower in Modesto is Trump supporter, pro-life activist, and local Republican organizer Mylinda Mason, married to Ron Mason, a former correctional officer and current Modesto PMZ realtor. Mylinda is also currently the admin on the CSPC Facebook page. On her own personal page, she has numerous photos of herself alongside Grundmann along with local GOP officials at various Republican functions and events.
Mason is also involved in the California Republican Assembly (CRA). In 2011, Mylinda ran for Modesto City School Board, running on a platform of opposing sex education in schools, and people in the Modesto community responded with protests over her homophobic politics. Mylinda responded by calling protesters ironically the “Intolerant Left,” a catch phrase that in the Trump era, would soon catch on in the wider Right.
In 2016, she ran for a seat on Stanislaus County Republican Central Committee. In 2017, Mylinda attended along with a variety of GOP officials, Ann Coulter’s speech in Downtown Modesto.
Ryan Schambers: Stanislaus County Central Committeeman
In 2017, Ryan Schambers unsuccessfully ran for Modesto City School Board with the backing of the local Republican Party.
One of the 35 members of the SCPC Facebook group, Ryan Schambers, stands out. He is one of the few millennials in the group. But Schambers is no stranger to far-Right politics. Growing up a dedicated fan of Pokemon, having won awards and still very heavily involved in the gaming subculture, like many on the Alt-Right in the the Trump era, he crossed from the gaming subculture into the world of reactionary politics.
Stanislaus Republicans Facebook page, run by Ryan Schambers shares a livestream from ex-Proud Boy and white nationalist Jeff Perrine on Facebook. Perrine is known for his calls to violence against migrants and their children.
Photo from Ryan Schamber’s personal Facebook page shows him hanging out with members of the far-Right and pro-Trump street gang, the Proud Boys, at Dust Bowl in Turlock. Proud Boy on the left can be seen doing the “OK” Alt-Right hand sign.
A student of MJC and then CSU Stanislaus, Schambers started and then folded a security company and then worked as a substitute teacher. In 2017, he ran for Modesto City School board, but was defeated, although picked up the support of the local Stanislaus County Republican Party. While at CSU Stanislaus, he ran the local chapter of the CSU Stanislaus Republicans. During this period, the CSU-SR group shared far-Right content, included videos of Sacramento based ex-Proud Boy and white nationalist, Jeff Perrine, who famously called for the murder of migrant people by “smashing their heads against the concrete” at a far-Right rally in Portland in 2018.
At #Portland rally, Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer called for immigrants heads to be "smash[ed]…into the concrete," seen giving Nazi salutes and screaming racial slurs. They don't just want to fight 'the Left,' but attack broad segments of the population. https://t.co/dPlbZby4QS pic.twitter.com/d2drdkAuhB
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) July 5, 2018
Schambers personal Facebook page includes photos of Perrine and other members of the Proud Boys in social situations in the Modesto area. In 2017, Schambers attempted to organize a rally against a left-wing teacher in Berkeley but claims he didn’t attend due to “bad weather.” In 2018, Schambers also attended a far-Right protest in San Jose where he stood next to members of the Alt-Right.
As posted on my Facebook I am now officially a member of the Republican Central Committee of Stanislaus County!! So grateful for this opportunity! pic.twitter.com/QV5p91mccD
— Ryan Schambers (@RyanSchambers07) January 8, 2019
Schambers also became heavily involved in far-Right groups in the local area, and can be seen on his own videos standing with members of the Central Valley Patriots, a group which demonstrated in support of Ann Coulter in Modesto in 2017 and stood side by side neo-Nazi skinheads who showed up in support.
Schambers also often wears the hat of the group, the Free State of Jefferson, which has a presence in the Valley and is also supported by far-Right and pro-Trump groups like the Central Valley Patriots.
In January 2019, Schambers went from failed School Board candidate to having a seat on the Central Committee of Stanislaus County Republican Party. This also includes members such as Jim DeMartini, who also sits on the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors. In a post to Facebook right after this column was first published, Ryan Schambers wrote that he is currently no longer a member of the Stanislaus County Republican Central Committee, despite his name still being listed as a member on the Stanislaus County GOP website.
But I have nothing to be ashamed of I mean I purposefully try to post all this stuff on the internet for all my friends to see so it’s not like I’m hiding anything, I’m a republican so what?
I didn’t see anything in there that I am ashamed of and there is nothing wrong with being in a Facebook group called straight Pride coalition. People have pride in their country for example does that mean they hate every other country? We have a Latino Community Roundtable does that mean that they are racist towards everyone that isn’t Hispanic? I think the obvious answer to both of those is not necessarily and everyone knows that.
What Ryan fails to address however is that belonging to a group that is trying to overcome oppression and centuries of poverty, colonialism, and institutional violence, is not the same as a group that claims an “inherent superiority” simply because their skin happens to be white.
Screenshot showing that Ryan Schambers has “seen” the California Straight Pride Coalition manifesto that includes “inherent superiority” of “Whiteness” and the “Caucasian” race along with attacks on LGBT people.
A few months later, he was added by Mylinda Mason to the California Straight Pride Coalition. Soon after joining, the CSPC posted it’s “manifesto,” which called non-straight people un-natural, and stated the “inherent superiority” of “Whiteness” and the “Caucasion” race. Not only was Ryan Schambers tagged in the post, but Facebook also marked him as having read it. He made no comment that he was offended by the statement. According to the Stanislaus County GOP of which Ryan Chambers is a member of the Central Committee:
We believe in equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity for all, regardless of race, creed, sex, age or disability.
Seems Ryan didn’t get the memo, or maybe the Republican Party just doesn’t actually believe in those things.
Mylinda Mason Bringing Don J Grundmann to Speak at Modesto Republican Event
What are are seeing before us is the cross over of formerly very fringe and extreme far-Right elements coming into the mainstream of the Republican party and being met with open arms. Ironically, as the GOP plays up fears of “socialism” and “antifa,” they in reality have been embracing the most hardcore racist and homophobic elements of the far-Right. This has played itself out in Trump’s sharing of far-Right and neo-Nazi memes on social media and his refusal to disavow the Alt-Right in Charlottesville. We have seen groups like the Proud Boys attack protesters outside of GOP events and march in support of Trump at his rallies and we have seen elected GOP officials like Steve King embrace the Alt-Right and young people like Ryan Schambers, act as a bridge between the world of establishment politics and violent pro-Trump gangs like the Proud Boys.
It seems like Mylinda Mason is hoping to continue this trajectory. According to the California Republican Assembly – Stanislaus (CRA), they are hosting Don J Grundmann at their upcoming group event in Downtown Modesto on October 3rd.
It should be pointed out that the CRA has a history of bringing out key GOP officials, politicians, and speakers. A look at their social media boasts the following people attending their events:
- Marla Livengood and Bob Elliot🇺🇸 for Congress.
- Johnnie Morgan Candidate for CRA President
- Ted Howze Candidate for Congress
- Representative from John Cox for Governor, David Cushman,
- Rob Poythress for Senate
- Ted Howze for Congress
- Juan Alanis for Stanislaus Sheriff Candidate
- People are already planning to mobilize and protest the “Straight Pride Parade” in Modesto. Join them!
- Call the Stanislaus County Republican Central Committee and ask by California Straight Pride Coalition (CSPC) member Ryan Schambers is on their board when he supports the “inherent superiority” of “Whiteness” an the “Caucasian” race, along with viewing LGBT community members as insane, not natural, and in-human. Call them at: (209) 571-8118
- The California Republican Assembly of Stanislaus says that it is hosting white nationalist and anti-LBGT activist Don J Grundmann at the Italian Bel Piatto Restaurant in Modesto on October 3rd. Call them and ask if this speaker aligns with their values as a business and community members: (209) 622-
Correction: Several days after this article was published, Ryan Schambers posted on his Facebook that he was no longer a member of the Stanislaus County Republican Central Committee. At the time of this writing, his name is still listed on the website. He also wants people to know that he hasn’t played Pokemon for “two months.”
Update: As of July 25th, Ryan Schambers name is no longer featured on the Stanislaus County Republican Party’s website as a member of the Central Committee.