To The Guy Who Believes The Gay Pride Flag Is Not As Important As The American Flag

To The Guy Who Believes The Gay Pride Flag Is Not As Important As The American Flag

What you forget is that our soldiers didn't discriminate who they fought for-- they fought for the American people of all classes, races, creeds, colors and sexualities.
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Mr. Teal,

You have written an unabashed piece of commentary on this photograph by Ed Freeman, which you have described as a disgrace to our country because in your opinion, it defaces an important monument belonging to our country. For your eloquence in speech and bravery in sharing your views, I commend you. However, I have to respectfully disagree with a large majority of what you have said.

I fully agree with your views on why the Iwo Jima memorial and photograph are so iconic and scared to our country. It is with a great respect that I, and countless other Americans, honor our fallen heroes who fought for our country and freedom. They deserve immense respect and I stand in salute of them, as I know you do, too. I do agree that the blood shed on the battlefield does not compare to the less violent and more legal battles that wage on here. (However, you yourself have stated that blood has been shed over the LGBT equality fight--they were victims of hate crimes, and that shed blood is not insignificant, not even when compared to our brave and steadfast soldiers' blood.)

But, what you have failed to recollect is that these fallen soldiers, and the soldiers who walked off of the battlefield, were fighting for our victory, our freedom, our rights. Our means all of us Americans, including those of all classes, creeds, colors, religions, genders and sexualities. ALL. You can be damn sure our armies consist of every color of every rainbow out there. When our soldiers represent all of us, they are fighting for everything the American flag represents, and the American flag does not discriminate among its people.

You say that you "have nothing against the LGBT community," but I find this hard to believe, since you attempt to distinguish "our" America with "their" America. There is no such thing. There is no "us" and "them". They are us. We are one. Our Supreme Courts--in which we invest our undivided, unfettered trust--have declared it so; they are equal, and they deserve equal rights. They deserve every right that our fallen soldiers have fought for, including those at Iwo Jima.

The photograph that you and many others claim is disrespectful had no intention of being as such--as is very clearly stated in Freeman's comments in the very article that you linked in your writing. (Perhaps you forgot to read it in its entirety because your anger was misdirecting you. I highly encourage you and everyone to read the article in its entirety, so you may understand the artist's intentions behind the picture. You say that this picture makes a "mockery of what that statue stands for," but I do not believe this to be true, and neither does Freeman, the creator of this picture. The Washington Post article quotes Freeman saying about his photograph, "'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.'"

This picture was intended to be a celebration of a victory, a victory for the pride community and their freedoms. The photograph of Iwo Jima and the memorial serve to remind us of the fight for our freedom, and it has been reproduced many times to honor this fight for freedom and to show how the fight continues on. (It has been put on pumpkins, beer cans, even been redone for Funkadelic, which appears on an album cover for the band.)

(By this comparison, the gay pride flag was at least for a more noble, less commercial cause. This album art is more along the lines of things we should be outraged at for disrespecting the memorial.)

It's not freedom for just you and other white males--it's freedom for us all: women, people of color, people of different sexualities and many more. And unfortunately, those battles wage on even after the fighting on the battlefields in other countries are over. This doesn't intend to disrespect the sacrifices that our soldiers are making--obviously, we could not be fighting those battles of equality if we didn't have the freedom that our America promises us and that our soldiers are fighting for. But the battles for equality are not made insignificant by the sacrifices of our soldiers. Rather, they are made more hefty, more important, because our young men and women are dying for all of our freedoms. Reproducing the iconic picture of Iwo Jima serves to honor it, not disgrace it, and the memory of those soldiers AND our freedoms, as we continue to fight for them.

You have to realize that telling the LGBT community that their flag, the symbol that they have chosen for their fight as Americans for the freedoms that the Constitution of America grants them, is not as important as our flag is wrong. They fly the gay pride flag along with the American flag. Their American flag. They hold both in equal reverence. Your disgust isn't with this picture, it's with what this picture represents. This picture of the pride flag represents a victory for a community that maybe you don't support. I can understand that. But artwork is a form of expression. The day we equalized gay marriage was a victory for America. It allowed us to bring America one step closer to the freedom and equality that it promises, just as Abraham Lincoln did when he emancipated slavery, and just as the Supreme Court did during Brown vs. The Board of Education. You might remember that from history class, separate but equal is inherently unequal. This photographer aimed to capture this victory of America, using inspiration from something revered and meaningful to our country. It was not disrespected, but rather respect of the utmost kind. Freeman chose this image of Iwo Jima as the victory image for the fight of his community, a fight he no doubt felt strongly about. It's not like he went up to the actual memorial and defaced it by spray painting it. No, he created a new image, inspired by the old one, to capture for him and his community all of the sentiment of their victory which was, for them, akin to the victory at Iwo Jima--the victory for our America. And I remind you again, our soldiers fight for OUR America, which means OUR freedom, OUR America, OUR rights. And that includes our LGBT community.

Cover Image Credit: The Washington Post

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20 Things That Happen When A Jersey Person Leaves Jersey

Hoagies, pizza, and bagels will never be the same.
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Ah, the "armpit of America." Whether you traveled far for college, moved away, or even just went on vacation--you know these things to be true about leaving New Jersey. It turns out to be quite a unique state, and leaving will definitely take some lifestyle adjustment.

1. You discover an accent you swore you never had.

Suddenly, people start calling you out on your pronunciation of "cawfee," "wooter," "begel," and a lot more words you totally thought you were saying normal.

2. Pork Roll will never exist again.

Say goodbye to the beautiful luxury that is pork roll, egg, and cheese on a bagel. In fact, say goodbye to high-quality breakfast sandwiches completely.

3. Dealing with people who use Papa Johns, Pizza Hut, or Dominos as their go-to pizza.

It's weird learning that a lot of the country considers chain pizza to be good pizza. You're forever wishing you could expose them to a real, local, family-style, Italian-owned pizza shop. It's also a super hard adjustment to not have a pizza place on every single block anymore.

4. You probably encounter people that are genuinely friendly.

Sure Jersey contains its fair share of friendly people, but as a whole, it's a huge difference from somewhere like the South. People will honestly, genuinely smile and converse with strangers, and it takes some time to not find it sketchy.

5. People drive way slower and calmer.

You start to become embarrassed by the road rage that has been implanted in your soul. You'll get cut off, flipped off, and honked at way less. In fact, no one even honks, almost ever.

6. You realize that not everyone lives an hour from the shore.

Being able to wake up and text your friends for a quick beach trip on your day off is a thing of the past. No one should have to live this way.

7. You almost speak a different language.

The lingo and slang used in the Jersey area is... unique. It's totally normal until you leave, but then you find yourself receiving funny looks for your jargon and way fewer people relating to your humor. People don't say "jawn" in place of every noun.

8. Hoagies are never the same.

Or as others would say, "subs." There is nothing even close in comparison.

9. Needing Wawa more than life, and there's no one to relate.

When you complain to your friends about missing Wawa, they have no reaction. Their only response is to ask what it is, but there's no rightful explanation that can capture why it is so much better than just some convenient store.

10. You have to learn to pump gas. Eventually.

After a long period of avoidance and reluctance, I can now pump gas. The days of pulling up, rolling down your window, handing over your card and yelling "Fill it up regular please!" are over. When it's raining or cold, you miss this the most.

11. Your average pace of walking is suddenly very above-average.

Your friends will complain that you're walking too fast - when in reality - that was probably your slow-paced walk. Getting stuck behind painfully slow people is your utmost inconvenience.

12. You're asked about "Jersey Shore" way too often.

No, I don't know Snooki. No, our whole state and shore is not actually like that. We have 130 miles of some of the best beach towns in the country.

13. You can't casually mention NYC without people idealizing some magical, beautiful city.

Someone who has never been there has way too perfect an image of it. The place is quite average and dirty. Don't get me wrong, I love a good NYC day trip as much as the next person, but that's all it is to you... a day trip.

14. The lack of swearing is almost uncomfortable.

Jerseyans are known for their foul mouths, and going somewhere that isn't as aggressive as us is quite a culture adjustment.

15. No more jughandles.

No longer do you have to get in the far right lane to make a left turn.

16. You realize that other states are not nearly as extreme about their North/South division.

We literally consider them two different states. There are constant arguments and debates about it. The only thing that North and South Jersey can agree on is that a "Central Jersey" does not exist.

17. Most places also are not in a war over meat.

"Pork roll" or "taylor ham"... The most famous debate amongst North and South Jersey. It's quite a stupid argument, however, considering it is definitely pork roll.

18. You realize you were spoiled with fresh produce.

After all, it's called the "Garden State" for a reason. Your mouth may water just by thinking about some fresh Jersey corn.

19. You'll regret taking advantage of your proximity to everything.

Super short ride to the beach and a super short ride to Philly or NYC. Why was I ever bored?

20. Lastly, you realize how much pride you actually have in the "armpit of America," even if you claimed to dislike it before.

After all, there aren't many places with quite as much pride. You find yourself defending your state at all necessary moments, even if you never thought that would be the case.

Cover Image Credit: Travel Channel

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If You Have Visible Tattoos, I Bet You've Heard These Comments Before

Wait, you mean I'll have these forever? Why didn't anyone tell me sooner?!

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I can't count the number of times I have heard my grandma say "Imagine that you get into a bad accident and need medical attention. As you are being rolled into the hospital you see two people wearing scrubs, one covered in tattoos and one without. Which one do you want performing your surgery?"

In this case, my answer would be "whichever one has the most experience."

The fact of the matter is that these kinds of comments either come from your grandparents (because they care) or people who don't know you and feel the need to give you their opinion.

1. What are you going to do when you're old and wrinkly?

Well if I had to guess, I am going to be old and wrinkly... with tattoos? I'm going to be honest. I never really know how to respond to that one.

But when both of us are old, I am going to be old and hip and rocking awesome tattoos. And you'll just be old.

2. "You're going to have a hard time getting a job with those tattoos all over you"

This is where I have to remind myself that it is okay to peacefully and politely disagree.

On a serious note, the stigma attached to tattoos in the professional workforce is nothing but false. Is there an amount of professionalism that one should have (ex. covering up tattoos) in a job interview? Yes.

However, the world of software and technology is growing exponentially, and it happens to be a world that is accepting of quirky people like myself that are covered in tattoos. Get over yourself baby boomers, times are changing.

3. "What does that one mean?"

Time for me to admit something that I HATE.

Every time I get a tattoo, something inspires it. Usually, it means a lot to me and I think of how many people I get to influence by explaining the meaning of the creations on my skin-- but when the time comes I freeze. "Uh, I think lions are really pretty," I say.

Also, I have a few tattoos that I got because I was bored, so that's awkward.

4. "Did that hurt?"

It's a needle ripping through your skin, it doesn't feel great. With that said, it's an oddly satisfying feeling at the same time, and I think we can all agree on that.

5. "You do know that is going to be there forever, right?"

WAIT, WHAT?! IT WILL???? No further comment.


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