Photographer Ed Freeman created the gay flag image to the right more than 10 years ago for the cover of Frontiers magazine. Since then, it has been used across countless social media posts for its highly recognizable features — four men work to raise a rainbow flag, instantly evoking Joe Rosenthal’s iconic 1945 photo of five Marines and a Navy corpsman hoisting the American flag on the Pacific island’s Mount Suribachi in the middle of one of the most ferocious battles of World War II. Almost 7,000 troops were killed in the fight — including three of the Marines in the photo — and more than 19,000 were wounded. More than 18,000 Japanese troops also died on the island. The operation at Iwo Jima lasted for more than a month. The Pulitzer Prize-winning image has been repeatedly used over the years to honor American troops, and as inspiration for other work.
Most recently, Freeman’s image resurfaced after last week’s Supreme Court victory. Freeman himself posted the picture to his Facebook account with the following message:
When I took this picture almost ten years ago, it 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.
But many were upset at the implied comparison between the struggle for gay rights and the sacrifice on the battle field. Commenters were quick to seize on the out photographer’s celebratory post with antigay epithets and allegations that Freeman was being un-American.
“Wow, what a fucking asshole,” wrote one enraged commenter in response to Freeman’s post. “Why don’t you find your own icon to celebrate with. That one belongs to the MARINES of IWO JIMA. The ones who along with many others died so an asscrack smear like you could disrespect their memory. If you have an ounce of shame, you will take that down, apologize for being disrespectful, and create a new image that will be uniquely suited to your victory. Even then, I am pretty sure I will still have the urge to punch you in the face.”
“Im all for gay rights and equal for all but DO NOT DISRESPECT THOSE WHO SERVED, SACRIFICED, AND DIED FOR YOUR COUNTRY AND YOUR RIGHTS AND FREEDOM,” wrote another commenter. “Its this shit that will drive ppl to hate on you. You WANT RESPECT THEN GIVE IT TO THOSE WHO DESERVE AND EARNED IT.”
With more than 1,000 comments on the post at press time, the vast majority have been negative. Some have been outright threatening. “You need to be beat down like the trash you are,” wrote one particularly menacing viewer. “You don’t need to be a Marine you fuck.”
Some commenters came to Freeman’s defense, however. “A lot of hateful comments,” wrote one woman. “People saying ‘these guys never lifted a finger’ but if you remember don’t ask don’t tell, you’ll remember that they did and continue to do so, you just don’t want to acknowledge it.”
Other pro-LGBT commenters noted the overwhelming likelihood that LGBT troops not only fought for the United States in WWII, but were killed in the battle at Iwo Jima.
Freeman himself rose in defense of his photo, telling the Washington Post:
“The principle complaint that people have is that I am equating the gay struggle with the contribution and sacrifice of American servicemen. But there is no equal sign here. This is not meant as a sign of disrespect. For God sake, no. I totally support people in uniform. There is no comparison going on here. 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.”
Is this a meme malfunction, or does everyone just need to simmer down?
Every post that talked about this, had an unbelievable amount of negative comments. I never knew it was that serious. Since I could not identify with the struggle of the former event, I just held back my opinion. But the truth is, gay people should thread carefully. This recent event is making people so butthurt and sensitive like a PMSing bitch!
Let’s just stick to doing goodwill and proving that marriage equality is not a mistake after all.
People can like to be crazy sha.
Our fight is worth recognizing too.
Ppl have suffered and died too.
People should go and take several seats biko mtchew…
Nonsense. The people complaining are bigots who don’t want LGBT people around anyway, not to speak of having marriage equality. They just found a flimsy excuse to hide behind to voice their hate.
The LGBT struggle has been a war not unlike other violent combat: people have died, people have lost their minds, been driven to suicide and depression.
People just keep proving how unfit they are to be called the “higher and more intelligent species”. Imagine oh! Even those with poo for brains will have the guts to say shit about this!
And who even said there has been no sacrifice amonst the LGBTIQ? What about the people who have suffered all manner of incredible atrtocities at the hands of those they love and who claim to love them simply because they are gay? Or those who were rejected and that coupled with fear and depression drove them to suicide? We have the tougher end of the sacrifice and suffering so some idiots need to go screw themselves over with UNN’s legendary cucumber! Rubbish!
The photographer was doing copy copy abeg, he should own up to that at least.
Thank you, Colossus.
The photo has been parodied countless times by countless people. There are even versions with sexy air hostesses hoisting up the flag. I doubt Mr Freeman meant to pass it off as original concept.
Absie, even that version has its detractors
Yes it has, it is a parody but using this picture to symbolise the Gay struggle is not befitting. I’m not saying those calling the photographer some choice names are right, it’s wrong and terrible but do you think if this was an original photo, people would have their penis up in a bunch?
When SCOTUS gave their landmark ruling, there was jubilation in the land, celebrations all around. In the midst of that celebration, there would have been many moments that when captured on camera would have become iconic as the years go by.
The picture is a beautiful parody but that’s where it stops. Is it iconic? It is not. A picture of Harvey Milk championing Gay rights is more iconic than this.
So it took the populace 10 motherfucking years to realize that the picture was an insult to the US Marines and American state at large….
If I was not gay, I guess I would have said the same thing.
We actually need to look at things holistically before jumping into conclusions because it affects us.
We need to remove sentiments in our discourse.
The one wrong I see here is threatening to have him beaten or killed.
But there are sentiments because it affects us. Its like telling a black person not to argue against racism, he should be objective even though it affects him!
There are no sentiments here, Sinnex. This is not the first time that photo has been re-created. Isn’t there a photo of Laverne Cox posing as the Statue of Liberty? The re-created version is actually flattering to the original.
Not everyone who coats their opinions with pristine grammar has anything to say.
The hue-criers are likely the same ones who dismissed Caitlyn Jenner’s bravery weeks ago because…of course, the US troops dying in the battlefield. As if bravery means only one thing.
I watched a documentary of the Iwo Jima battle last week. I understand both sides’ takes. the photographer should have been original instead of recreating a famous photo knowing the significance of the pic to Americans. this may not be a good analogy but imagine the uproar among Christians especially catholics if the Madonna pic was adapted to an LGBT theme!
LOL!!!! Pete, I tried to imagine that uproar. Imagination didn’t come through, because it scared my mind too much.
The Stonewall persecution of gay people, anyone? Abeg, the LGBT has suffered its fair share of sacrifices to get to where it is today.
I read an article about a military guy in the US facing trial for treason which he was innocent of. He had an alibi as he was in a gay bar at the time of the said crime but he was willing to risk going to jail for life rather than own up to his homosexuality and take the alibi!
I underestimated dont ask dont tell untill I read this. The struggle for equality has been a very difficult road and I dont see what the fuss is about. It means that much to some of these people!
this sounds like a scene from scandal season 1
Apparently it was inspired by the real story!
The recreation is beautiful. That’s all that matters.
Me thought I was the only one that noticed how beautiful and smorkin hawt this parody of the IWO JIMA photo is.
Any other opinion contradicting this should please take several seats and keep their mouth busy by munching on something phallytic (sic). Mstheww!
Thanks @MM.. Looks much better than the original.
I agree that we gays ought to get our own symbol of liberation. World War 2 was a serious and unprecedented event, millions were killed, the holocaust took place. We wouldn’t even be having this conversation if the axis forces had had their way- Homosexuals were also sent to concentration camps during the war. Yes our gay struggles are valid, but it does not even begin to compare to the atrocities of that era and the bravery of those that fought. i think its too soon for gays to claim victory now, cause we still have a long way to go. So who ever took this photograph…was wrong and rash.