Scout Hudson calls himself a Luddite. He doesn’t use Twitter, is reluctantly on Facebook and rarely checks his email. He won’t even publicize his last name. When he must identify himself online, he’s “Scout TheBootblack” — a disabled queer trans man of color living in Portland, Oregon.
Earlier this month, though, Scout started an Instagram trend endorsed by queer celebrities like Miley Cyrus, Tan France and Billy Eichner. Scout, whose Instagram is dormant, is the designer behind the popular “Queer Pride” graphic, featuring the Pride flag inlaid with the Trans Pride flag and the Black Power fist.
At the start of Pride Month, when Black Lives Matter protests ignited in response to the police killings of George Floyd, Tony McDade and Breonna Taylor, Scout’s graphic became a popular signifier of support for an intersectional queer community. Like the Blackout Tuesday squares, the “Queer Pride” graphic is more show than substance.
In fact, the popular design is a rip-off of Scout’s original. The version he created in March 2019 doesn’t feature the black lines separating the queer and trans flags. Most egregiously to Scout, the edited version features a white tip on top of the Black Power fist. His version intentionally left out any white elements. “Putting white at the top of a fist is a really great way to white above all the other colors. Looks like white supremacy to me,” Scout tells me.
Over the phone, the boisterous Scout talked with me about creating an intersectional queer insignia — and what it’s like to watch your art go viral while getting co-opted.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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When did you first create the “Queer Pride” design?
Over a year ago. I’ve been in the community for a really long time. I’m a trans man of color, and I’m queer. The flags that I have seen I always felt like I had to fracture my identity. I wasn’t welcome as my whole self in any of those places.
Was there a specific incident that finally made you want to create this?
I saw a lot of new flags coming out in the last couple of years. There was one with an arrow that pointed to the right that was supposed to represent trans people of color and queer people in the community. In today’s political climate, an arrow to the right just seemed alarming to me. We don’t need to be socially moving to the right about anything. I wanted a clear and direct message that how you build a community [is to] center the most marginalized.
How did you choose the elements?
I wanted the fist to not have a white portion in it to really focus on people of color being the center. I really wanted the trans message next to it in a circle because to center people is to put them in the middle. I didn’t have any lines separating the parts of the flag. There’s no black line between the circle of trans pride, and there are no black lines between the colors of the POC fist, because we’re all one community. We don’t have to separate the parts of ourselves to be a part of it. That’s why I call it “Queer Pride.” This is what queerness looks like. Yes, there is room for the cis white gays, of course. This is for everyone.
So you designed it in March 2019?
I put it up on Custom Ink. I co-produce Kinky Queer Weekend, which is a kink event centering marginalized voices. It’s an overnight camping event. I wanted a space where I could be my whole self. Where I could say, hey, that’s fucked-up and racist and nobody’s gonna yell about it.
How does that design fit in?
I’ve never been interested in padding my own pocket. I’m poor. I live on a government check. I’m disabled. I’m not lining my own pockets. If I get a windfall of money, I’m going to redistribute it. I routed the money [from the design] to Kinky Queer Weekend.
Okay, so how did your art go viral?
I’m a Luddite, and one of my friends is the porn star Blue Bailey. They shared it and got a lot of traction. Then it got edited. Somebody put black lines around it and changed the fist a little bit. That got posted by Miley Cyrus.
I didn’t realize she was one of the first.
She was one of the first I saw that shared the alternative image. The San Francisco Gay Men’s Choir also shared an alternative image.
Do you know who edited it?
I might. A guy named Jake Ryan. I have no idea who Jake Ryan is, but they edited the image with black lines separating the parts of the community on NowWearIt.com.
How do you feel about Jake Ryan using it?
Editing the image to separate parts of the community completely invalidates my entire artistic message.
Where can I buy your original art?
We made shirts on Custom Ink. I didn’t have money to get flags made, so I teamed up with a great queer immigrant person of color out of the South, Mita Bear. He lives in Georgia. He helped me get stickers made, and flags, buttons and face masks.
Do you know how much you’ve made so far with the design?
Yes, I can tell you that. Off the T-shirts, I’ve made $1,940. [It’s now $2,090, according to his Custom Ink page.]
I’m really stoked about it.
How do you feel about having raised this money?
Oh my god, are you kidding? I’m still on the hook for a venue [where] I can’t throw a party this year. I have to give refunds to people. This is saving my ass. For me, it’s not about the money. I’m not going to buy new shows. That’s not how any of this is going to work. I’m currently donating 25 mattresses [from Kinky Queer Weekend] to a homeless camp for queers. We had to cancel [Kinky Queer Weekend], so that’s where all that gear is gonna go. I’ve got a pile of things I’m just donating out.
So final question: How do you feel about your design going viral?
I’d rather them use the one made by a trans person of color because that’s kind of the message. If you’re gonna say you’re interested in centering trans people of color in the queer community, you should use the art by the trans person of color.