Gay Activists fLIP oFF Ronald Regan Portrait While Visiting White House
If several raised fingers are any indication, some LGBT activists who
visited the White House last week are fully evolved on what they think
of President Ronald Reagan.
In a photo, removed from her Facebook page Friday afternoon (but posted here by the Philly Post),
Philadelphia photographer Zoe Strauss is pictured waving two middle
fingers at Reagan's presidential portrait. She did, at least, have the
courtesy to tag Reagan in the photo.
Strauss joined Matty Hart, national director of public engagement at
Solutions for Progress, in using the White House's 2012 LGBT pride
reception to express his distaste for the late Republican president. On
Friday, Hart posted a similar photo on Facebook, accompanied by a certain four-letter word and the ex-commander in chief's last name.
Strauss did not return a request for comment.
Hart, who said he takes issue with Reagan's handling of the AIDS epidemic, was unapologetic a week later.
"[Reagan] was a murderous fool, and I have no problem saying so," Hart told the Philly Post. "Don't invite me back. I don't care."
Philadelphia Gay News publisher Mark Segal avoided the
explicit gesture in his photo op, settling on a not-so-sincere thumbs-up
in front of President George W. Bush's portrait.
"I have friends who work in that building," Segal told the Philly Post.
"I'm not going to do something that could embarrass them or that could
somehow damage a campaign that is so important. 'Be on your best
behavior,' my staff told me. I think they know me too well."
In a statement Friday, Christian Berle, deputy executive director of
the Log Cabin Republicans, criticized Hart and Strauss for insulting
Reagan, whom Berle said gave aid to the pro-gay GOP group's founders as
California governor in the 1970s.
"It is unfortunate that the image conservative America is seeing
today of LGBT people is of gay leftists misbehaving at the White House,
rather than the millions of patriotic, decent LGBT citizens, many of
whom, like Log Cabin Republicans, hold President Ronald Reagan in high
esteem," Berle said. "These photographs have hurt our community and make
advocating for inclusion and equality more difficult. The participants
should be ashamed."
The three Philadelphia-based activists were part of an East Room
reception on June 16 marking LGBT Pride Month. President Barack Obama told attendees that he would be their "fellow advocate," saying he and first lady Michele Obama "have made up our minds" on marriage equality.
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