LAFAYETTE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Landscaping business owner, Shaun Trent, has painted images that typically honor a person or group, like the military, on Macon County High School’s football field for the past five years for free. But last Friday when he tried to honor pets that have died through his art, the school district told him to cover it up—worried it could be seen as LGBTQ positive.
“I never once thought about offending anybody,” Trent said. “I thought everyone knew what the rainbow bridge was.”
After learning Sunday would be Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day, which honors pets that have died, Trent decided the rainbow bridge would be the theme for his painting on the Macon County High School football field.
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The landscape business owner posted on social media a picture of his artwork depicting some animals, including his own cat, crossing over the rainbow bridge. Trent told News 2 that within minutes, the school’s football coach called to ask him to cover up the painting.
“He said we’re afraid someone is going to assume this is that, but I said you can’t base on assumption, you just do it; no one is complaining,” Trent said. “After he hung up, I was like they can handle it, and it kind of snowballed from there.”
Trent couldn’t bring himself to cover up his own artwork, but he told the district he would try to find someone else who could.
He ultimately decided he could never paint the district’s field again, partly because he’d likely have to get his future designs approved prior to painting them, versus leaving the artwork as a surprise for players and coaches.
“It’s a horrible feeling to know that you’ve made somebody mad or angered somebody with your paint because that’s no artist’s intention,” he said. “You just paint what comes to you. Now I have to look back and think in my mind, am I painting things now that offend people?”
Trent took to social media to announce he was stepping down from maintaining Macon County’s football field, which prompted dozens of posts showing support. One woman even created t-shirts with Trent’s rainbow bridge painting on them that say “We stand with Trent.”
“I didn’t realize that many people were touched by anything I drew, because they were pointing out things in the past that I had painted,” Trent said. “People were just [writing about] how they enjoyed everything. It was really inspiring. It helps with the sting.”
Trent said he is ready to put the situation behind him, and he doesn’t need the district to apologize despite social media users demanding the school does so.
He wants to know who was behind the push to get the artwork covered up, though.
“I was going to take the heat for all of this. Put this on me as the artist, I’ll take the blame, but they really wanted the rainbow off the field,” Trent said. “Maybe we can all just learn from this, and I guess it’s like the old saying, no good deed goes unpunished.”
News 2 reached out to the Macon County School District multiple times for comment but had not heard back by the time this article was published.