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.

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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Growing Up White Taught Me So Much About Racism

Take what I learned growing up privileged and white and utilize it to access knowledge on all races.

Now, I know this title sounds a bit nerve-jerking due to the obvious reasons; however, hear me out, this is not the article you are expecting.

For some background knowledge, I am an 18-year-old white woman who, in societal terms, has had everything handed to her. And for the longest time, I never saw it as that.

I saw that everyone got everything they needed.

However, I was born and raised in a predominantly white area and had little-to-no knowledge of a different race. In my school, all I could remember was that there were around 90% white kids and a very slim percentage of colored kids —and I never knew that as wrong or questionable.

This was all until my family moved to a more southern state where schools were more integrated and diversified. It came as an utter shock.

In fact, it fascinated me the differences in people that goes far beyond skin color. The difference in hair texture, skin texture, culture, and a plethora of more all hit me in a sudden roar of integration.

It wasn't until I was older and in high school when I realized how segregation and racism consumed some parts of the country.

I remember looking at makeup catalogs and being able to find my shade perfectly, while my best friend at the time couldn't. There was a magnificent array for my skin tone, but only two options that weren't even dark enough for her.

I felt heartbroken for her. This happened more often than anyone could think or imagine and the worse part is, I couldn't understand why this was happening or what to do.

And that is the major point. As a white citizen, I will never fully understand the impact segregation has on the lives of others because it did not necessarily affect me he little and minute segregations stung.

Recently, a scandal regarding a clothing advertisement of a black little boy wearing a sweatshirt quoting "coolest monkey in the jungle" surfaced the internet and immediately caused an uproar of mixed reactions. Some said it was absurd and disgusting, while others deemed it as a mere coincidence.

To be quite honest, when I first saw the ad, I myself did not see any racism behind it whatsoever. However, after reading the history of the critical names thrown at people of color, I completely understood.

Centuries ago, people of color were criticized based on their skin color, being called "savages" and animals with the term "monkey" included. I thought, "no wonder this is causing an uproar in the black community — it's disrespectful and distasteful."

This is what is wrong with today's society. People fail to research and have the knowledge of other cultures before speaking on them.

Of course, to someone who doesn't face the harsh and cruel name calling of a "monkey," I don't understand why this was as big of an issue as it was. We, as white people, don't face that type of stereotypical terms. I can attest to that. I had no idea why it was such a scandal in the first place until I looked deeper into it.

The first step in curing the disease known as racism is acknowledging the wrongdoings — like assuming we are experts in a race other than our own. This generation has the ability to turn things around and end racism.

Take what I learned growing up privileged and white and utilize it to access knowledge on all races. This will help you grasp a better understanding of where to start fixing this society.

Cover Image Credit: Taylor Stambaugh

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Sexual Orientation Vs. Gender Identity

Just a friendly ally here clearing up the differences

“Wait, she’s a lesbian now? I thought she was transgender?”

I hear phrases like these all the time. While they can be insensitive, I understand that they often come from a place of true confusion. For this reason, I thought I would clear up the meanings and differences between the terms surrounding sexuality, gender identity, and more. I truly believe that understanding is a key step in the direction of the tolerance, support, love, and community for which we strive as LGBTQ+ advocates.

Some things to keep in mind:

1) Each of these identity categories is a scale.

2) These identities can be fluid.

3) Everyone has several intersectional identities.

4) It’s okay for people to have discovered certain identities and not others.

Sexual Orientation refers to the gender to which a person is sexually attracted.

Romantic Orientation refers to the gender to which a person is romantically/emotionally attracted.

Sex refers to physical sexual characteristics (i.e. genitalia). This is what is most commonly used to announce whether newborn babies get called “female” or “male.”

Gender Identity refers to a person’s gender as they identify. This may be different from a person’s sex.

Gender Expression refers to the gender expressions to which a person conforms.

Cover Image Credit: Wokandapix

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