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Post submitted by Maureen McCarty, former HRC Deputy Director of Marketing

Last week, Ryan McGinness partnered with HRC to create new artwork for a National Coming Out Day T-shirt. McGinness, known to many as the Warhol of the 21st century, is perhaps best known for his screen prints, installations and evocative paintings. Today, McGinness shared the inspiration behind the winning T-shirt design.

“My first reaction to being asked to create a new design for National Coming Out Day was, “Are you sure you have the right guy?” I’m not gay. I hesitate to explain that, because it sounds like I’m defensively saying, “I’m not gay.” I have learned, however, that I am a “straight ally”—a term I never knew before working with the HRC. I think a lot of people are straight allies, but have not come out as such. So, the first step in accepting this invitation was for me to make National Coming Out Day personal by coming out as a straight ally.

The next step involved deciding what I did not want to include in the drawing: closets and rainbows. (In the end, the ROY G. BIV color spectrum proved too useful a cliché to exclude.) The sketch process shown on my web site reveals the different concepts and directions I explored—from angry middle fingers to friendly flowers. 

The speech bubble, radiating lines, and universal figure emerged as the three essential elements. These three nouns were set in motion with the increasing scale shifts from the small figure, to the larger message, to the even larger resonance of that message. Additionally, it was important to me that the speech bubble be empty but framed in the already established color spectrum signaling inclusion of everybody. My hope is that people will customize the speech bubble by filling in the empty center.”


Celebrate National Coming Out Day everyday by ordering the exclusive NCOD T-shirt today.

Filed under: Allies, Coming Out

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