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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37 Things Growing Up in the South Taught You

Where the tea is sweet, but the people are sweeter.

1. The art of small talking.
2. The importance of calling your momma.
3. The beauty of sweet tea.
4. How to use the term “ma'am” or “sir” (that is, use it as much as possible).
5. Real flowers are way better than fake flowers.
6. Sometimes you only have two seasons instead of four.
7. Fried chicken is the best kind of chicken.
8. When it comes to food, always go for seconds.
9. It is better to overdress for Church than underdress.
10. Word travels fast.
11. Lake days are better than beach days.
12. Handwritten letters never go out of style.
13. If a man doesn’t open the door for you on the first date, dump him.
14. If a man won’t meet your family after four dates, dump him.
15. If your family doesn’t like your boyfriend, dump him.
16. Your occupation doesn’t matter as long as you're happy.
17. But you should always make sure you can support your family.
18. Rocking chairs are by far the best kind of chairs.
19. Cracker Barrel is more than a restaurant, it's a lifestyle.
20. Just 'cause you are from Florida and it is in the south does not make you Southern.
21. High School football is a big deal.
22. If you have a hair dresser for more than three years, never change. Trust her and only her.
23. The kids in your Sunday school class in third grade are also in your graduating class.
24. Makeup doesn’t work in the summer.
25. Laying out is a hobby.
26. Moms get more into high school drama than high schoolers.
27. Sororities are a family affair.
28. You never know how many adults you know 'til its time to get recommendation letters for rush.
29. SEC is the best, no question.
30. You can't go wrong buying a girl Kendra Scotts.
31. People will refer to you by your last name.
32. Biscuits and gravy are bae.
33. Sadie Robertson is a role model.
34. If it is game day you should be dressed nice.
35. If you pass by a child's lemonade stand you better buy lemonade from her. You're supporting capitalism.
36. You are never too old to go home for just a weekend… or just a meal.
37. You can’t imagine living anywhere but the South.

Cover Image Credit: Grace Valentine

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Louis Walsh Groping Mel B On Live TV Proves Rape Culture Is Alive and Well

Allowing perpetrators to get away with "minor" sexual harassment like this allows the Brock Turners of the world to get away with their crimes, too.


Recently a clip from an Xtra Factor UK interview from 2014 has resurfaced on Twitter. The clip shows Louis Walsh groping Mel B's butt and, after being called out on it by her, laughing the whole situation off.

You can see his hand slowly travel downward, then tapping her bottom before finally squeezing it while laughing at a conversation going on. Mel B notices it and is visibly uncomfortable. She stops the interview and asks him why he's grabbing her butt, and while he excuses his behavior as "looking out for her" and Simon assures her she's "safe," she insists that it's inappropriate and scoots further away from him.

In turn, he and Simon laugh off the entire exchange, he scoots closer to her, and the interviewer, Sarah Jane Crawford, continues the interview. We never get to see how Mel B's female co-star, Cheryl Cole, reacts to the whole situation.

This exchange was cut from the final clip posted by the X Factor UK, but a Twitter user recorded the exchange, presumably from a recording of the live broadcast, and posted it. It has since divided Twitter users.

Some say Mel B was completely justified while others insist that because Louis Walsh is gay, he meant no harm by his fondling and Mel B calling him out only served to embarrass him.

Good. I hope so.

One Twitter user pointed out that his sexual orientation is irrelevant:


Nothing rings truer than "sexual assault isn't about sex, it's about asserting power and dominance." It doesn't matter if he didn't intend to derive any kind of pleasure from the encounter. What matters is that, in a sexual situation, Mel B was uncomfortable and it was Louis's fault.

People rushing to Louis's defense is symptomatic of a deeper problem in our culture. They're quick to disbelieve and blame the woman, the victim, instead of the perpetrator.

The eagerness to sweep the instance under the carpet allows perpetrators to feel more confident, knowing they won't be punished for their actions. When a man gets away with groping a woman on live TV, men and women in places of power everywhere will be emboldened to touch and speak to others however they please.

It may sound extreme at first, but this whole situation is rape culture.

These small allowances plant the seeds to turn a blind eye to bigger, more awful situations—until we're at the point where a man can rape an unconscious woman and only get three months of jail time because his bright and promising future shouldn't be marred by "20 minutes of action."

We can't allow instances like this. We have to come down hard on any and all forms of sexual harassment, with the punishment fitting the crime (PSA: sexual harassment is an actual crime, not "something that just happens").

Obviously, Louis Walsh shouldn't be treated like Brock Turner. But his actions should've been punished, probably more than just by simply calling him out on live TV, an exchange ultimately cut from the final posted clip anyway.

If Mel B had waited until they were no longer on live TV and his hand was no longer touching her, it would've been slightly out of place to bring it up. It's much like how when a child does something wrong or dangerous, you point it out right then; you don't wait. She could've still talked to him about it in private, but in addition to having called him out on it right when it was happening.

Not only was Mel B justified in calling out Louis Walsh, but any person in a similar situation is as well.

If you're ever in a situation that's even slightly sexual and you feel uncomfortable, say something. Don't let the other person get away with it. And if they're not ill-intentioned and truly didn't mean to make you uneasy, then they can learn from you voicing your discomfort.

It doesn't matter the situation or who's doing or saying something sexual that makes you feel uncomfortable. The voice of shame and self-blaming will find any way to justify their actions and keep you silent. Don't let it.

No matter how big or small the instance may seem to you, it's worth speaking up about.

Cover Image Credit:

The X Factor UK

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