There’s this photo that keeps popping up on my Tumblr.
It’s black and white and primarily focuses on a man dressed as Dorothy Gale of The Wizard Of Oz. The outfit is slouchy but the hair and the plaid really sell the look – in addition to a sign he holds above his head that reads, “Surrender Donald.” Another man stands behind him, peering through his arms, while a particularly sassy looking man holds up a sign with statistics and the face of Donald Trump. “GREEDY MONSTERS” is read on a sign above them all.
This is a funny photo, an image of protest from who-knows-where. Why does it keep on popping up in my Tumblr? Because it’s actually so super timely: it’s a capturing of queer people standing up to Donald Trump from way back when.
Whenever I see the image, it always comes with that caveat – that’s because it’s true. Slate explains this, tracing its origins to late October 1989 and to the group ACT UP.
It was Halloween, and the protest took on a special, sometimes ghoulish campiness. A flier featured the headlines, “New York Tricked Out of AIDS Care, Trump Treated to Tax Abatements,” and “Don’t Let New York Become a Ghost Town.” One participant wore a vampire costume and held a sign depicting Trump as Freddy Krueger, with the words, “Nightmare on Trump Street.” Others wore paper masks featuring Trump with his lips pursed. Eventually some protesters went inside Trump Tower where they threw fliers from the escalators, eluding security guards. In the end, the police put a stop to the protest and arrested six people on charges of illegal trespass, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest.
ACT UP saw in Donald Trump a symbol of a flawed system, where government policies empowered the wealthy at the expense of the poor and marginalized. They saw, as one poster put it, a “greedy monster,” and were among the few prescient and bold enough to draw their swords—not only for the sake of queer people but for a wider community of people living with HIV and AIDS, disregarded and disempowered by their government.
Yes. This is such a sage capturing of my – Our. – feelings for this human fecal matter.
The story goes well beyond this too, explaining that the group repeatedly protested him for his benefitting from high taxes, getting millions in tax abatement to build Trump Tower “while homeless people get sicker.” This fight is something we’re seeing happen again in a different way, on a national scale, as we Californians are being squished by his new tax policies that the rich greatly benefit from while we non-rich folk suffer.
It’s fucked up. Then again, anything he does is fucked up. This is unsurprising, through and through. If we think our rage against him is new, it very much isn’t – and perhaps we should look backwards for tips in order to move forward, to rid ourselves of this evil wizard.