A 25-year-old YouTuber who boasts more than 500,000 subscribers, purchased a tiny, five-acre Michigan town called Hell and renamed it “Gay Hell” to protest the Trump Administration’s refusal to fly the LGBTQ rainbow flag in front of U.S. embassies during LGBTQ Pride Month in June.
“Gay Hell” is located 15 miles northwest of Ann Arbor with a population of 70, as NBC News notes.
Elijah Daniel tweeted, “Ahead of pride month Trump’s administration put a ban on embassy’s flying pride flags. So as of today, I am now the owner of Hell, Michigan. I bought the whole town. And my first act as owner, I have renamed my town to Gay Hell, MI. The only flags allowed to fly are pride.”
CNN reported, “Daniel is from Michigan and says that he always drove past the town growing up. He also grew up ‘very religious’ and was told a lot if you’re gay you go to Hell, Daniel said. ‘I’m just from Michigan and every time we drove past we knew that town, oh that’s Hell. I just thought turning it into Gay Hell would be funny.’” Daniel added, “It’s been pretty good for my fans. A lot of upset Trump fans, but that’s nothing new to me.”
Daniel told NBC News that the statement, “The only flags allowed to fly are pride,” was intended as a joke. He explained his purchase of the town thus: “I have a young audience who is 16 to 24 who would not be involved in politics if it wasn’t in a funny or meme way. I’m just trying to have fun and get my audience politically active.”
Earlier this month, Vice President Mike Pence did not back down when asked if he supported the State Department’s decision not to fly the rainbow Gay Pride flag on the flagpoles outside American embassies. Pence stated, “I’m aware that the State Department indicated that on the flagpole of our American embassies that one flag should fly, and that’s the American flag. And I support that. … when it comes to the American flagpole at American embassies at capitals across the world, having the one American flag fly, I think, is the right decision.” He added, “We put no restrictions on displaying any other flags or any other displays at our embassies beyond that.”
The Obama administration said embassies could fly the rainbow flag from poles outside the embassies but they had to be smaller and fly lower than the American flag. The Trump administration issued instructions that embassies needed approval from the State Department’s Office of Management to fly a rainbow flag.
As Buzzfeed News noted, Daniels has used the town of Hell for publicity before; in 2017.
Daniels paid $100 so he could act as mayor for a day; whereupon he banned heterosexuality and was subsequently impeached. He claimed the joke was to mock President Trump’s restrictions on travel to the U.S. from Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen.
The Detroit Free Press reported that the town of Hell was on the market for $900,000 in 2016.