An anti-Trump sign has taken an Oklahoma man around the country
It took only 10 minutes for someone to give Gale McCray the middle finger.
The 74-year-old from Lawton was standing on a grassy island at the intersection of Northwest Expressway and Pennsylvania Avenue on Thursday morning, doing what he has done since February: holding a sign that reads, in bold and black letters, “Trump, That Boy Don’t Act Right.”
“There’s another middle finger! My second finger!” he shouted a short time later as a passerby displayed her dislike.
McCray keeps a tally of the middle fingers he receives on a given day and writes down some of the cruder insults shouted in his direction. Thursday’s winning phrase was eight words, three of them explicit.
“I get more positive reactions than negative but it can really push some people’s buttons,” he said.
Since February, McCray has traveled to eight states holding what he calls “The Sign,” lodging with whomever will house him and going wherever there is a newfound friend. It took him to Washington D.C., where he met U.S. Rep. John Lewis. Documentary filmmaker Annabel Park gave him $20 and has helped arrange some of his travels, he says.
The strange journey began innocuously enough. McCray, who now lives in Fort Worth, would stand on a corner in the Texas city with his homemade sign. Then people recommended he take his show on the road, so he did. Nearly all of the street corners and intersections he’s stood on are in towns, cities and states that voted for President Donald Trump in November.
McCray’s phrase — “that boy don’t act right” — is one that was used often in 1950s Lawton, he says, and he believes its folksy roots ensure all can understand it. Back in his hometown — where his high school chant was “We drink beer! We drink whiskey! We’re the seniors of 1960!” — the phrase “that boy don’t act right” was often followed by “God bless him” or “bless his heart.”
“So, I really didn’t put that much thought into it,” he said of the phrase.
Reactions to McCray are emblematic of the polarized political landscape that preceded and followed the 2016 presidential election. A liberal in a small, deeply conservative Texas town called him heroic. Some supporters of the president believe he is determined to ruin America.
McCray’s not sure which reaction is more bizarre. Neither villain nor hero, he says he is what his business cards, Twitter account and Facebook page say he is: “Old Man With a Sign.” His Facebook page has more than 2,000 fans who follow his travels — and the sign’s travels — and volunteer their spare rooms or spare money for his use.
Twenty-three people, by his count, have said he can stay with them. Some nights he sleeps in his car or a cheap motel. He sells merchandise with the phrase “Trump, That Boy Don’t Act Right” to help with travel expenses.
“I don’t think I’m changing anybody’s mind,” McCray said of his tour through conservative America. “What I want to do is say we’re here and we’re not going away.”
He’s going to Tulsa next, then up to Kansas for stops in Topeka and Kansas City. From there, maybe he’ll go to Minnesota, he says. Or maybe not. He received an offer to stay in North Dakota, so he’s considering a trip there, though he’s never been.
“It’s fun,” he said. “I know that sounds weird but if it wasn’t fun, I wouldn’t do it.”
At the corner of Pennsylvania and Northwest Expressway, dozens of cars honked in support during the hour he was there. One man in a large pickup yelled, “Go to hell!” Another chanted, “Trump’s my guy, yay Trump!” repeatedly as he sat at a red light. McCray looked at the man, shrugged his shoulders, and said, “Okay.”
Then there was another reaction to The Sign, a reaction McCray seems to like most of all: laughter.
“See, she’s smiling!” he shouted as a middleaged woman drove by. “I love it!”
Gale McCray, of Lawton, displays his sign Thursday at an intersection in Oklahoma City.