Amidst the post-mortem tributes, the legendary rocker’ssubtle gestureinsupport of the transgender communityis once again coming to light. As Petty and the Heartbreakers performed their 1976 classic, “American Girl,” in cities across the country on their40th anniversary tour this summer, an image of transgender actressAlexis Arquetteappeared 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’dreportedly sentformer Republican presidential hopefulMichele Bachmanna cease-and-desist letter after she played “American Girl” at a 2011 rally. Similarly, he’d asked formerPresident George W. Bushtostop using his 1989 single, “I Won’t Back Down,” on the campaign trail 11 years earlier.
The image of Arquette, whodiedof complications from HIV/AIDS in 2016, hadreportedlybeen 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’sForest Hills Stadium. Earlier that day,President Donald Trumphad announced his controversial planto ban transgender service membersfrom the U.S. military on Twitter.
Regardless of Petty’s intent, the image’s inclusion made headlines inBillboard andThe New York Post, amongother publications. Meanwhile, Missouri-basedrock station KSHE 95called the move “an inadvertent swipe” at Trump’s trans ban.
It eventually caught the eye of Alexis’s brother, David Arquette. In a July 27 Instagram post, the 46-year-old “Scream” star praised Petty for honoring his sister in concert.
A post shared by David Arquette (@davidarquette)on Jul 27, 2017 at 8:58am PDT
No doubt the image will now stand as a lasting tribute to two artists gone far too soon.
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost.