A popular YouTube star made a Twitter announcement on Monday that he’d bought a town in Michigan and renamed it “Gay Hell” in protest of President Trump’s decision to prevent U.S. embassies from flying rainbow flags during the month of June — LGBTQ pride month.
Elijah Daniel — a 25-year-old vlogger, comedian, musician, and activist — bought the tiny town of Hell, which is about 15 miles northwest of Ann Arbor and has a population of about 70, according to NBC News.
“Ahead of pride month Trump’s administration put a ban on embassy’s flying pride flags,” Daniel tweeted, explaining that his first act as as owner of the town would be to give it an LGBTQ-friendly name. His second would be to instate a new law: pride flags are the only flags that are allowed to fly in Gay Hell.
ahead of pride month Trump’s administration put a ban on embassy’s flying pride flags.— elijah daniel (@elijahdaniel) June 17, 2019
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. pic.twitter.com/AKOcZm2Jvm
The pride flag-only rule was short-lived, though, as it’s actually illegal to prevent U.S. citizens from waving the stars and stripes, according to the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005.
In an interview with NBC News, though, Daniel said his remark about the flag restriction was actually just a joke. He even told CNN that he had doubled down on the satire by proclaiming to ban heterosexuals from Gay Hell, too.
In reality, he said, he partially did it to encourage political awareness among his devoted fan base — on YouTube alone, he has more than 500,000 subscribers, primarily youths. Another motive was simply to encourage people to visit Michigan, even though Daniel himself is a resident of California.
“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," said Daniel to NBC News. "I'm just trying to have fun and get my audience politically active."
“The idea is they click my tweet and then see the news behind it. It's the way I get my audience interested," he further explained to the BBC.
It turns out this isn’t Daniel’s first time in Hell. He was already named Mayor of the tiny town, but only for one day back in August 2017 after paying $100 for the privilege. Again, he said the stunt was meant as a joke and an act of rebellion against the Trump administration, which had just put restrictions on some Muslims trying to travel into the U.S.
However, Daniel would not share the price he paid for the keys to the gates of Gay Hell. But it was most recently put on the market in 2016 for a whopping $900,000 by John Colone, Hell’s unofficial mayor.
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