Richard Wade Morgan was reading one of many articles about presidential candidate Donald Trump when it occurred to him just how much words can be twisted.
“Commenters on Twitter were saying that making America great again means making America great for the people it was great for in the 1950s –- white men,” said Morgan.
Morgan, 26, of Midtown, decided to give Trump’s campaign slogan a little twist of his own. “I wanted to take Donald Trump’s hateful phrase and turn it into something positive,” he said. “It has always been in my mindset that I wanted to get people angry about an issue.”
The graphic designer and UGA grad put his training in protest design to good use coming up with the slogan, “Make America Gay Again.”
He searched for a company that made hats from prismatic vinyl –a rainbow reflecting silver material that he chose to symbolize the LGBT community — then worked with a local embroidery company (The Big Stitch ATL) to add the twisted slogan and poke fun at the caps that have been sported by Trump and his supporters throughout election season.
The $25 hats went on sale July 4 at makeamericagayagain.co. By Aug. 4 they had sold out. On August 12, Morgan donated $500 each to two charities that assist LGBT youth — Lost-N-Found and The Ali Forney Center. Having grown up queer in the deep South, Morgan said he felt it was a good way to give back.
Morgan, who has funded the project on his own, is gearing up for another run mid-September. He plans to offer some items that will be 100 percent for charity. Others will have a portion of proceeds go towards funding the creation of the product and the website.
He wasn’t the first to come up with the twist on Trump’s slogan. In June, American Apparel used the same phrase on a collection of gear for Gay Pride.
The retailer partnered with the Human Rights Campaign and the Ally Coalition to create a line of “Make American Gay Again” t-shirts, hats and bags. They also offered up personal stories on the American Apparel website and donated 30 percent of sales from the limited-edition T-shirts and tanks to support the Equality Act and to fight discrimination in the LGBTQ community.
For Morgan, the whole experience has become a crash course in online retailing.
“I had never started a business from the ground up,” he said. “The biggest challenge was just worrying that people would perceive this as anything but a charity. That was my biggest fear. There are so many opportunities for scams.”
But so far, Morgan has only had positive responses. He hopes others will take the message that they shouldn’t be afraid to challenge the oppressor or the offender.
“People rally around [Trump] because they are afraid. They haven’t met a neighbor who is gay or of a different race or background,” Morgan said. He hopes “Make America Gay Again” will spur conversations among people who are different.
“The greatest piece of artwork and design work pulls out a human emotion,” Morgan said. “It gets a response no matter if that is good or bad.”