Equals sign mashup spreads like red wildfire

March 27, 2013

On Tuesday morning, standing before the Supreme Court building, Juana Medina focused not on the conflict, but rather the compassion.

“I was able to see heated confrontations and hear passionate arguments from all sides,” says Medina, a 32-year-old artist who stood amid bold signage for and against same-sex marriage. “Those were not the actions that moved me. It was seeing grandmothers, young parents, pastors and drag queens singing ‘This Little Light of Mine’ together that really touched me.

“I guess in the end, we’re not as different as we think we are.”

So when Medina got before a screen and saw that a red-and-pink equals sign had gone viral on Facebook and Twitter as a show of equal-rights support for gay marriage, the Rhode Island School of Design graduate decided to do what illustrators often do best: She altered the symbol to make it resonate with more feeling. In this case, warmth and whimsy.

(On Monday, the Human Rights Campaign, a lobbying group for LGBT issues, changed its navy-and-gold logo and urged others to show their pink-and-red support with the symbol, including on Facebook.)

The Human Rights Campaign encouraged facebook users to substitute this logo for their profile photo to support the movement. (HRC)
The Human Rights Campaign is encouraging Facebook users to substitute this logo for their profile photo. (HRC)

“The logo provided through social media by the Human Rights Campaign is solid and iconic,” says Medina, a Bogota-born artist who lives in the District and teaches at the Corcoran. “I just wanted to add to it a lighthearted comment, hoping to remind myself and others of how this is simply a matter of equality.

“I did not want to create anything overpowering or striking — unless eliciting a smile counts as striking.”

The image, which Medina posted on Facebook, morphs the parallel horizontal lines into a couple with arms interlocked, holding a flower and a bird of peace in their free hands.”

As for what decision the Supreme Court justices will come to — they hear oral arguments for a second day on Wednesday as they weigh a pair of gay-marriage cases — Medina hopes for one result.

“It would be nice [if] the outcome of this process could show that all the fear and misconceptions will fall short in comparison to love.”

As the equals sign spread through social media like a red wildfire — Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and actor/online “influencer” George Takei were among the high-profile early adopters — so, too, grew the mashup meme.

As that red math symbol became so Web-ubiquitous, the twists on the logo sprang up but irresistibly. The parallel lines were tweaked and twisted and shape-shifted. Here is a sampling of the “mashup meme” links so far:

1. Because the Bacon Lobby is mighty and contains multitudes. See photo

2. Because to some, this is about legally “leveling up”: See photo

3. If nothing else, each side can say: “Let them eat cake!” See photo

4. Because to some, fighting this battle feels like a time-warp…again. See photo

5. And for some, the fight is as old as a ’70s video game. See photo

6. Because some prefer old math to new math. See photo

7. Because this gives new meaning to “Liberty and Justice for all.” See photo

8. Already wedded to the Grumpy look. See photo

9. Paula Deen = Equal to the task. See photo

10. “I DREAMED A MEME.” See photo

BONUS: And of course, not all meme contributions are created, well, “equal.” See photo

More from Style: Edie Windsor’s fight for same-sex marriage rights

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Veronica Toney | March 27, 2013