Even though it was shot more than a decade ago, a photographer's gay pride-themed adaptation of the iconic 1945 photo of Iwo Jima Marines and a Navy corpsman struggling to lift an American flag is spawning some serious backlash online.
The adaptation of Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal’s photo, snapped by Los Angeles-based photographer Ed Freeman more than a decade ago, depicts four men arduously raising the rainbow flag symbolizing the LGBT movement.
A side-by-side of the two photos was resurrected this week in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision to legalize gay marriage in all 50 states, dredging up the same negative reactions the original pride photo received years ago when it was first captured.
Freeman, who is himself gay, told The Washington Post
that he never expected such vitriolic backlash more than 10 years after he shot the photo, and that there was “no way in hell” that he meant it to be provocative.
“The principle complaint that people have is that I am equating the gay struggle with the contribution and sacrifice of American servicemen,” Freeman told The Post. “But there is no equal sign here. This is not meant as a sign of disrespect . . . The comparison is going on in people’s heads, and they’re spoiling for a fight. They’re already on edge because of the gay marriage decision.”
When Freeman posted the photo to his Ed Freeman Photography Facebook page
on Friday, he wrote, “When I took this picture almost 10 years ago, it never, never occurred to me that it would someday come to symbolize the victory we are celebrating today. Congratulations to all of us! Love to you all.”
Although reactions were mixed, Freeman received a slew of outraged responses:
“This is the most disgusting thing I have ever seen. I am ALL for equality, and happy for the ruling. But this . . . is a disgrace. There's no comparison to winning the right to marry to almost 7,000 Marines DYING while defending your right to fight for equal rights,” wrote one Facebook commenter.
“I am a lesbian combat vet. I find this photo insensitive and offensive. While I do not agree with some that it is, "Disgusting", I do think it is terribly insensitive and somewhat tasteless,” another person wrote.
“This is the reason why hate still thrives in our society and love does not win. You have taken this to an extreme so that those struggling to understand, accept, and celebrate with you are now closed off. Is this truly how you think celebrating love should be represented? A society will continued [sic] to be divided with both sides going to such extremes,” someone else wrote.
Others voiced similar opinions on Twitter:
Freeman has since received a death threat that he reported to the FBI, according to The Post.
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