Prideful Iwo Jima Photo Adaptation Sparks Major Controversy



While there has been a ton of support and love being spread around social media in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, not all of the social media circulation has been positive. This time, the uproar is not over the Supreme Court ruling, but rather a decade-old gay pride photograph that has recently resurfaced.

It has been about a decade since photographer, Ed Freeman, captured a cover photo for the gay magazine, Frontiers. Freeman had set out to capture a photo that represented the struggle that the gay community was facing in terms of their rights. In order to illustrate the ongoing struggle, he captured an imitation of the flag-raising at Iwo Shima—a photograph that has been mimicked and modified multiple times since it was originally taken on February 23, 1945.

The original photograph, taken by Associated Press photographer, Joe Rosenthal, received a Pulitzer Prize and inspired the Marine Corps War Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. The bronze monument, which depicts the photo taken of five Marines and Navy corpsman as they planted the American flag in the side of Mount Suribachi, stands in the cemetery to honor all Marines killed in combat. The image has become a true American treasure, representing a big part of the country’s history.

Since the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states, Freeman’s adaptation of the photograph has been circulating social media. It has received a numerous amount of mixed responses, even a death threat that the photographer reported to the FBI.

Freeman, who is gay himself, took to Facebook on Friday, June 26, 2015, to celebrate the Supreme Court’s decision, posting his photo, along with the caption, “When I took this picture almost ten years ago, it never, never occurred to me that it would someday come to symbolize the victory we are celebrating today. Congratulation to all of us! Love to you all.”

The Los Angeles based photographer says he never expected the backlash he has received. He says his photo, which was taken before social media had become popular, was partially staged with models and edited on Photoshop— a simple adaptation to go along with plenty that have come before it.

Freeman spoke to the Washington Post about the controversy at hand, clarifying his intentions with the photograph, “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.”

The photographer seems to be in high spirits, not letting the backlash get to him. He even joked about his next photo being of an astronaut planting a gay flag on the moon.

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