Protest art is nothing new.
For years, people have used art in a multitude of mediums to express discontent with, among other things, a current political climate or the state of the world around them.
And on Valentines Day, a dating app called Haterprojected an imageof a naked Putin fondling a pregnant Trump on the side of buildings in New Yorks Williamsburg and Chelsea neighborhoods.
Of course, weve seen similar images in the past, like when thismural of the pair kissingpopped up inLithuanias capitallast May.
Sure, the images may be made from artists around the globe, but they all share a common theme: they reinforce the idea that affection or romance between two men is either something to be mocked or a sign of weakness.
And at the end of the day, this outdated belief is rooted in homophobic notions of how men should act with one another.
The artists real joke here, of course, lies in the fragile, toxic nature of masculinity and the idea that affection between men is so outrageous that depicting these two (very unpopular) world leaders in this way is somehow funny.
But its not. And this idea that queer men are somehow weak or more effeminate than those identifying as straight and that this makes them mockable is something that LGBTQ people have alwaysfought throughout history.
The questions we should be asking ourselves are: Why do we keep seeing different variations of this Trump/Putin image? What is so funny about love between men? Why is the idea that failing masculinity through male-on-male affection one that our culture reproduces over and over again? Even in art-based contexts that are supposed to be progressive?
Weall know that masculinity is fragile so fragile in fact that it seems to be the end-game that many Americans go to when theyre reaching for something to make fun of Trump about.
But we need to do better. There are ways to critique our president and his alleged problematic relationship with Vladimir Putin without placing that critique in a framework that, at the end of the day, is homophobic.
To be fair,there is something to be said for the idea of reframing their relationship through a queer lens that empowers gayness and celebrates queer relationships.Tenderness between two men shouldnt be alarming, even it its Trump and Putin.
But I suspect that isnt the intentions of the artists creating these works.
We are all living in scary, surreal times. But lets be intentional in the ways were dealing with that reality and intentional about the choices we make with our forms of resistance, no matter what medium that may be.