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July 02, 2015

Gay pride adaptation of iconic Iwo Jima Marines photo receives backlash

Photographer Ed Freeman was surprised to receive backlash when he posted a photo he had taken more than a decade ago depicting the gay rights struggle.

The photo, which was featured on the cover of Frontiers, a gay magazine, is an adaptation of a 1945 photograph of the flag-raising at Iwo Jima. The iconic original image shows five Marines and a Navy corpsman raising an American flag on Mount Suribachi.

Freeman's photo has been circulating on social media following the Supreme Court’s decision Friday to allow same-sex marriage in all 50 states. 

"When I took this picture almost 10 years ago, it never, never occurred to me that it would someday come to symbolize the victory we are celebrating today," Freeman wrote in a Facebook post. "Congratulations to all of us!" 

Many began to criticize the photo, and Freeman said he even received a death threat.

“He said if he ever saw me, he’d kill me,” Freeman said during a phone interview with The Washington Post“I got swamped with vitriolic hate mail.”

Social media users shared heated responses, many calling the photo "disrespectful."

“The principle complaint that people have is that I am equating the gay struggle with the contribution and sacrifice of American servicemen,” Freeman told The Washington Post. 

“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.”

Read more from The Washington Post.