Amidst the post-mortem tributes, the legendary rocker’s subtle gesture in support of the transgender community is once again coming to light. As Petty and the Heartbreakers performed their 1976 classic, “American Girl,” in cities across the country on their 40th anniversary tour this summer, an image of transgender actress Alexis Arquette appeared on a screen behind them as part of a montage.
As far as Petty is concerned, the move was par for the course. Although the singer-songwriter was not known as an overtly political artist, he’d reportedly sent former Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann a cease-and-desist letter after she played “American Girl” at a 2011 rally. Similarly, he’d asked former President George W. Bush to stop using his 1989 single, “I Won’t Back Down,” on the campaign trail 11 years earlier.
The image of Arquette, who died of complications from HIV/AIDS in 2016, had reportedlybeen featured on the band’s tour since it kicked off in Oklahoma in April. However, it took on an added significance during their July 26 performance at New York’s Forest Hills Stadium. Earlier that day, President Donald Trump had announced his controversial plan to ban transgender service members from the U.S. military on Twitter. Read more via HuffPost