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‘RuPublicans’ Parody Account Targets Greg Abbot in Texas Billboard Ad Campaign

Author: Christopher Wiggins

Craig DeForest and his husband have been traveling the country in their Airstream camper, living the nomad life. In that time, they have grounded themselves by creating incredible artificial intelligence-created political commentary art with the wildly popular Instagram account RuPublicans, which they started in April.

The account has quickly gained a loyal following as the creators prompt the AI software to generate elaborate images of prominent Republican politicos dressed in drag.

As right-wing politics has continued to target the LGBTQ+ community, mainly through attacks on transgender people and drag queens, RuPublicans have taken conservative male politicians and activists to task by painting them with makeup and dresses to comment on the political moment the country finds itself in.

The pair has successfully sourced funds for and developed a monthlong advertising buy in Texas, where RuPublicans have posted a billboard.

“Mind your wigs, not our gigs, Greg!” the billboard on I-35 South in Austin says, directly addressing the state’s Republican anti-LGBTQ+ governor, Greg Abbott.

DeForest spoke with The Advocate from his camper as he and his partner stayed in Provincetown, Mass.

He explained that with the success of the RuPublicans came the opportunity to engage in targeted activism.

“There have been many times where we’ve done posts of various political folks in drag. There have been requests from people in the comments saying they’d love to see a billboard of this.”

So, because of his awareness of recent anti-LGBTQ+ legislation nationwide, DeForest said RuPublicans decided to target Texas due to its implementation on September 1 of Senate Bill 12, a law that restricts drag performance, which a Texas federal judge has put on hold.

“That law could have a lot of effects on other types of performances too, because it’s so vague,” DeForest said. “So I thought it was a good opportunity to do something, and the time felt right.”

He said that after a previously successful fundraising effort resulted in RuPublcans raising more than $21,000 for the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana Foundation, it became clear that something more could be done.

He said that knowing that the ban was set to go into effect and that there was litigation surrounding it, a billboard seemed like a good idea.

“And within three days, we raised the funds,” he said, adding, “The campaign launched on GoFundMe on a Friday, and by Monday morning, we had over $16,000.”

The slogan, “’Mind your wigs, not our gigs, Greg’ is meant to be kind of a fun play on words,” he explained.

“I’m not necessarily expecting to change a bunch of hearts and minds with it,” he said. “I think it’s more about showing support.”

He continued, “The other part of this campaign that was exciting is the ability to raise so much in funds that we could give money to other organizations.”

He said the RuPublicans could donate $2,000 each to Equality Texas, Out Youth, Transgender Education Network of Texas, and the Resource Center, a Dallas-based nonprofit.

“They all support the community in different ways, and we were able to give them over $2,000 each,” DeForest said.

He added that with almost 300,000 followers on the RuPublicans Instagram, the billboard “is hopefully just the beginning.”

The billboard will be up for the entire month of September.

Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Christopher Wiggins

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