An Atlanta-based artist has come up with a novel way to deal with the time-honored fixture of right-wing picketers at LGBTQ+ Pride Parades. To paraphrase an old saying: If you can’t beat ‘em, make sure you can’t hear ‘em.
According to CNN, 33-year-old artist Matthew Terrell has designed a “hate shield” to drown out the sound of homophobia.
“I wanted to… counter protest in a peaceful way and ultimately make the Pride experience better for the people passing by,” he told the news channel. “That when they walk by, they won't see, hear, or notice people with the megaphones yelling at them.”
The design itself is fairly simple. The shield, which weighs around 120 pounds in total, is comprised of four 4x8 soundproof panels made of Mylar, as well as two inches of foam. He tested their effectiveness by placing them at the entrance of this year’s Atlanta Pride festival, as volunteers stood by wearing soundproof earmuffs.
Terrell estimates his invention was able to reduce the volume of anti-LGBTQ+ protesters outside the festival gates by 25 percent. So while it’s not the same as having a “mute” button for bigotry, it’s certainly helpful.
One particularly novel feature is that the outward facing side of the panel is mirrored, meaning that protesters will be forced to look at their reflections as they spew hate.
Terrell said he wants bigots to “see what they look like doing this.”
“I think there's a strong message in, ‘Look at yourself. Is this really what you want to put into the world?’” he said. “They probably have never had this reflected back at them.”
The shield was reportedly put together with funding from the Fulton County Department of Arts and Culture and Atlanta Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs after previous strategies to deal with anti-LGBTQ+ protesters — including yelling over picketers’ bullhorns — hadn’t been effective.
“You can't yell over a 120-decibel megaphone,” Terrell said.
Former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams served as Grand Marshal of this year’s Atlanta Pride, which is one of the largest in the South. As Out previously reported, one of the ASL interpreters from the event inadvertently went viral for his energetic translation of Beyoncé’s “Get Me Bodied.”