ALLENWOOD — WASHINGTON — Standing before the steps of the Supreme Court this week, Juana Medina focused not on conflict but on compassion.
"I was able to see heated confrontations and hear passionate arguments from all sides," said Medina, a 32-year-old artist who was surrounded by bold signage for and against same-sex marriage. "Those were not the actions that moved me. It was seeing grandmothers, young parents, pastors and drag queens singing 'This Little Light of Mine' together that really touched me.
"I guess in the end, we're not as different as we think we are."
So when Medina saw that a red-and-pink equal sign had gone viral on Facebook and Twitter as a show of support for gay marriage, the Rhode Island School of Design graduate decided to do what illustrators often do best: She altered the image to make it resonate with more feeling. In this case, warmth and whimsy.
She was part of a trend started this week by the Human Rights Campaign, which lobbies for LGBT issues and changed its navy-and-gold logo. The HRC urged others to show their pink-and-red support with the symbol, encouraging Facebook users to substitute the logo for their profile photos.
As the equal sign spread through social media — Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and actor and online "influencer" George Takei were among the high-profile early adopters — so, too, grew the mashup meme as the parallel lines were tweaked and twisted and shape-shifted.
"The logo provided through social media by the Human Rights Campaign is solid and iconic," said Medina, a Colombian-born artist who lives here and teaches at the Corcoran College of Art and Design. "I just wanted to add to it a lighthearted comment, hoping to remind myself and others of how this is simply a matter of equality.
"I did not want to create anything overpowering or striking, unless eliciting a smile counts as striking."
The image, which Medina posted on Facebook, morphs the parallel horizontal lines into a couple with arms interlocked, holding a flower and a bird of peace in their free hands.
As for what decision the Supreme Court justices will come to?
"It would be nice [if] the outcome of this process could show that all the fear and misconceptions will fall short in comparison to love."