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YouTuber buys Michigan town and renames it 'Gay Hell' in protest of Trump policy

NBC News logo NBC News 6/18/2019 Janelle Griffith

a man holding a sign posing for the camera © Courtesy ELijah Daniel YouTuber Elijah Daniel is hoping people go to Hell — a tiny town in Michigan that he recently purchased.

Daniel, 25, announced on Monday that he bought the town of Hell, Michigan, and officially renamed it Gay Hell.

He said it is an act of protest against the Trump administration recently rejecting requests from U.S. embassies to fly the rainbow flag, a symbol of gay pride, during the month of June in celebration of LGBTQ Pride Month.

The town is about 15 miles northwest of Ann Arbor and is believed to have a population of about 70 people.

"Ahead of pride month Trump's administration put a ban on embassy's flying pride flags," Daniel tweeted. "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."

Daniel told NBC News in a phone interview on Monday that his flag rule is intended as a joke and will not be enforced.

a man sitting in a park: Image: Elijah Daniel, Gay Hell, Michigan © Courtesy Eljah Daniel Image: Elijah Daniel, Gay Hell, Michigan

The comedian and musician, who has more than 500,000 YouTube subscribers, said the acquisition was intended to enhance his political portfolio by engaging his followers.

"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," Daniel said. "I'm just trying to have fun and get my audience politically active."

He also hopes it inspires people to visit Michigan.

Daniel, a California resident, declined to disclose how much it cost to purchase Gay Hell from its previous owner, John Colone, and said he will be the temporary owner. The town is a five acre commercial property and was on the market for $900,000 in 2016, according to the Detroit Free Press.

This isn't the first time Daniel has gone to Hell to make a political statement.

In August 2017, Daniel paid $100 to become the mayor of Hell for a day, banned heterosexuality and was then impeached. He said his desire to become mayor was a joke in response to Trump's restriction on travel to the U.S. from a handful of Muslim countries.

Vice President Mike Pence recently defended the Trump administration's move to prohibit U.S. embassies from flying the rainbow pride flag on their flagpoles during LGBTQ Pride Month, telling NBC News that "it's the right decision."

"When it comes to the American flagpole, and American embassies, and capitals around the world, one American flag flies," Pence said last week.

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