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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Changing Sexuality is New Reality

The changing culture of sexuality and gender has been under fire since day one, despite television shows already adapting to it

In the past few years, radical changes have been made to sexuality and gender. However, thanks to the cynical manner of society, people have been joking about something that has been very personal to people. Accepting someone different than what a person is used to can be difficult, but at the same time, shouldn’t be as difficult as it really is.

The essay, Teaching Students to Face Their Anti-Gay Prejudices, describes an assignment that should be given to any if not all students in schools. It teaches people to defy what they are shown but rather to really immerse themselves in a subject. In media, characters have more often than been portrayed in the manner that students believe. From hit shows like Married… with Children and In Living Color to small one season wonders like Lush Life and High Society have provided he stereotypes of gay men that many people are “afraid” of.

Despite great efforts to sway public opinion on people within the LGBTQ community, there has been a great deal of movement within the television community to change the dynamic of LGBTQ characters. Characters such Carter Heywood from the ABC sitcom, Spin City, were ground breaking in that they didn’t follow the stereotype of all gay men in media being portrayed as effeminate men who are actors in some form of theatre.

He was a politician and wasn’t as concerned with the usual mélange of issues that the effeminate character is concerned with. Characters that are the effeminate gay men usually are usually portrayed as being airheads and not concerned with a great deal of social issues.

More often than not the series Will & Grace created a revolutionary dynamic between the characters of Will and Jack. Jack McFarland, portrayed by Sean Hayes, was the stereotypical actor who cannot get work, is an effeminate gay man who is busy searching for the next Mister Right Now, and isn’t really concerned with certain things going on in the world. Will Truman, portrayed by Eric McCormack was an interesting role because he was a media deviant.

Instead of being everything Jack McFarland was he was someone that found a career path and became a lawyer. He cares about social issues, he wants to look for Mister Right and isn’t concerned with some quick fling. Yet, based on the reading, Will Truman isn’t the character or type of person that people think of when their social imagination conjures the image of gay people.

Other members of the LGBTQ community haven’t remotely seen the justification that sitcoms should rightly give them. Egregious jokes are made out of characters that question their sexuality as seen through the character of Josh Blair on the sitcom Veronica’s Closet, and Ellen Morgan from the sitcom Ellen. These two characters left their sexuality in the balance over a generous portion of the shows they were on. Despite the foreshadowing of them coming out, the jokes about their sexuality managed to inhibit the development of a sexuality spectrum.

As people were more concerned with the stereotype, they no just became comfortable as media and other environments perpetuated the idea that gay men, women and growing adults are like this in reality. Reality has been distorted by these portrayals as demonstrated in the essay. When people can look back from the perception of people within the LGBTQ community they can focus on the person and not the perception they have been fed.

Another essay, “The New Straight: As gay aesthetics filter into the mainstream, orientation is becoming harder to define” does not accurately define what is considered normal in terms of the LGBTQ community. Even though media portrayals fell more to wards to butch lesbian or the effeminate gay man, but that doesn’t mean these are the correct for of normal. Normal, in terms of this essay, is a term that manages to muddy the waters of media representation of LGBTQ people. There is no real form of “normalcy” to take precedent in this essay because that isn’t right.

Despite the fact that the stereotype has consumed media adaptations, it the reality for certain people though not for all. The atypical portrayal of gay men and women in media is also a reality for certain people, and then there are the rest who fall into a gray area. Normal is a term that cannot be used in defining the LGBTQ because this article was written before the idea of normal could even remotely come to being relative to this group. As it continues to evolve from the idea of a gender and sexual binary, the points slowly being discovered along the way are what must be amended to the article and should be brought up. Shows like 2 Broke Girls, which introduced a gender fluid character, poorly, but still managed to introduce the concept that sexuality has evolved since the early 2000s.

At that point in time, television audiences were not prepared for the new LGBTQ portrayal they found on Will & Grace. Shows until that point didn’t venture into the unchartered territory of sexuality and gender. Now, in 2018, Will & Grace came back and has the opportunity to be a leader in the discussion of evolving sexuality. Other shows and networks will follow, but no show has remotely come close to making a move on sexuality. That is the problem.

The necessary chaos surrounding the issue of sexuality and gender has managed to create a conversation that news media can touch but only with facts. Creators and producers can in fact transcend the notion with opinion and craft characters that relay the reality of who people are. Television has not caught up with the times in terms of sexuality and gender but it’s only a matter of time. Someone has to be willing to show the new normal in terms of sexuality and gender.

Cover Image Credit: Edwin J. Viera

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"You're just need to choose," she said as they came to a stop at a red light.

Her son sat there, staring pointedly forward. He didn't trust himself to look at her right now. After a long beat, he spoke up.

"Why?" he asked, barely keeping the anger out of his voice. He didn't even bother to reiterate that this wasn't a choice; that he couldn't just switch one on or off. He was tired of having that argument. Mostly because it was never really an argument. It just felt like he was talking at a wall whenever this was brought up.

The light turned green and she let her foot off the brake.

"Because," she said resolutely, resorting to the typical parental response - or lack thereof.

"Because...?" he asked in a leading fashion. He hated when she did this; when she just said 'because' like that was a valid answer. He knew why she said it. She didn't have anything else to say, but she be damned if she looked ignorant or intolerant.

She took a deep breath through her nose. She didn't like to discuss these things. She was raised in a very black and white world, and she was apprehensive of the gray her son constantly confronted her with. It's not that she hated it, or her son; she just preferred not to discuss things she was unfamiliar with.

"I just want what's best for you," she said, merging onto the highway. He had to bite his tongue not to yell 'bullshit' at her. That was another thing she didn't like - cussing. He settled for rolling his eyes and crossing his arms.

She sort of knew this was a cop out answer, but she couldn't say what was really on her mind. She resorted to this social script she'd heard on countless occasions because it was easier to say some vague phrase someone else has already said that to articulate her actual feelings.

"That's rich," he mumbled.

"What was that?"

"I said 'that's rich'," he reiterated, "and that's a cop out," he tacked on. She gripped the steering wheel a little tighter.

"Don't use that tone with me," she said, falling back on another overused saying from the Parental Handbook of Cliches. He took a deep breath. He was tired of not having this conversation. He was going to see that they both said everything they wanted to. Here. Now.

"I'm bisexual," he said, trying to steer the conversation into his lane, "and I don't think I understand."

"Understand what?" she asked, a little knocked off balance by the word 'bisexual' actually being verbalized.

"Why..." he asked, lowering his tine and trying to sound as sincere as possible so as not to put her on the defensive, "and please don't just say 'because'...why do you want me to- need me to chose?"

She was not expecting this conversation here. Or now. She'd put it off so many times, half hoping for her son to just drop t so she wouldn't have to face this head on. She'd never had to deal with anything like this. Her life had been simple, easy, scripted, normal! Nothing like what the world was becoming. Growing up, things had order and very little deviation. She wasn't prepared to deal with this...this liberty. This freedom to pick and choose and make it up as you go along. Her life was planned.

"I'm scared," she said, finally. Her own answer surprising her. For all the traffic outside, the cab of that car felt like the inside of a vacuum. He was absolutely astounded at having gotten a real answer out of her.

"Scared of what?" he ventured. Her? Scared? What did she have to be scared about? Her reputation? Her perfect little cookie-cutter life? His mind, like the car, was travelling a mile a minute. He tried to dial down his internal dialogue enough to hear her response.

"I'm...this is-this..." she took a moment to gather her thoughts into an intelligible sentence, "I've never had to deal with anything like this. I guess I feel a little lost." He seemed to absorb this confession from his mother, In all his life, he'd never heard her say that she was lost. She had a plan for everything. He turned his body towards her as much as he could in the limited space of the car. He sat for a moment as he thought of what to say next.

"I feel a little lost, too," he admitted. She furrowed her brow. He was lost? Selfishly, she took a little comfort in the fact that she wasn't alone. She turned into the driveway and parked her car. Taking the keys out of the ignition, she turned to her son.

"I guess now's a good time to find some answers," she said, the promise of an actual productive conversation waiting for them inside the house.

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