By Diane Anderson-Minshall
Originally published on Advocate.com June 23 2012 10:43 AM ET
Yesterday Philadelphia magazine published photos of three Pennsylvania gay activists making hand gestures in front of presidential portraits after being invited by President Barack Obama to the White House’s recent LGBT pride reception. While Philadelphia Gay News publisher Mark Segal did a sarcastic thumbs-up pose in front of the portrait of George W. Bush and remained above most of the media criticism, his colleagues Matthew Hart, National Director for Public Engagement at Solutions for Progress, and photographer Zoe Strauss (pictured here) gave former President Ronald Reagan's portrait the middle finger. According to Philadelphia, Hart posted his photo on Facebook with the caption, “Fuck Reagan" and later told reporters,“Yeah, fuck Reagan. Ronald Reagan has blood on his hands. The man was in the White House as AIDS exploded, and he was happy to see plenty of gay men and queer people die. He was a murderous fool, and I have no problem saying so. Don’t invite me back. I don’t care.”
That's just what happened. After the Drudge Report picked up the story yesterday, it made its way to D.C. and the White House issued a statement, telling Fox News that the two bird flippers won't be invited back.
"While the White House does not control the conduct of guests at receptions, we certainly expect that all attendees conduct themselves in a respectful manner. Most all do," said White House spokesperson Shin Inouye. "These individuals clearly did not. Behavior like this doesn’t belong anywhere, least of all in the White House."
Even some gay activists came out against the bird flippers.
Christian A. Berle, Deputy Executive Director of the gay organization Log Cabin Republicans says, "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. Log Cabin Republicans are particularly offended by these images, given that our organization's founders sought and received the aid of then former-Governor Reagan in support of gay rights in California in the 1970s. These photographs have hurt our community and make advocating for inclusion and equality more difficult. The participants should be ashamed."