Instagram forced to apologize after deleting innocent picture of two men kissing
Pride month has only just ended in the USA, and already we're being reminded of how desperately we still need it. Every day we hear incidents of transgender individuals being denied entry to bathrooms or dressing rooms, LGB couples experiencing physical and verbal abuse for holding hands or being affectionate in public, and, in at least one recent case, children being tortured or even killed by their parents after coming out as gay.
It's simply not right that one group of people have to put up with so much hate - so much terror - just because of their gender and/or sexuality - and yet the most casual transphobia and homophobia can still be found almost everywhere.
This week, for example, Instagram removed a picture from their platform because it showed two men kissing.
The photo was of Jordan Bowen and Luca Lucifer, a couple, and was taken by a photographer named Stella Consonni. Her goal with the image - along with several others in the same series - was to explore intimate moments between people that others may not normally see.
However, a day after she posted it, Consonni received a message saying that her post had been taken down for "violating community guidelines".
"After reading the guidelines, there still wasn’t anything that seemed applicable to that image," Consonni said. "I was outraged and angry, but my thoughts went straight to Jordan and Luca—I could only imagine how they would feel."
"If a picture of two men kissing can be considered too inappropriate for one of the world’s largest social media sites (that’s owned by the world’s largest social media site), and those in the image subjected to abuse, what message are we sending to young LGBTQ+ people?
"And what about those in places where society is even less accepting?"
And the photographer received a lot of hate from commenters, too.
Instagram later apologised for deleting the post, describing the action as an "error", but went no further in explaining why the image was taken down. Furthermore, since it's been put back up, the picture has continued to attract a torrent of abuse from homophobes.
"This is just so wrong and sad. How people don’t think this is abnormal is madness," wrote one person.
"Take it down again," said another.
And many tried to hide their hatred by saying they simply didn't want to see it: "I do not hate homosexuals! I am against propaganda of homosexuality! What is your love here and my concern for a normal moral future ?? Love at home, in special establishments, but not in the street! Is this clear to you?"
Others, however, had nothing but good things to say about the shot.
One person wrote: "Well done Stella. Nowt wrong with love ?. Here’s to freedom for all ?."
"Hatred and ignorance is so so ugly. ALL love is beautiful," said another.
But one 'Grammer put it best when they said: "Beautiful image of two beautiful people. All the bigots sounding off in the comments need to crawl back under the rocks they came from. The world's moving forward, you dinosaurs will be left behind."
Consonni witnessed homophobia firsthand when her picture was taken down and continues to receive abuse - along with Jordan and Luca - now that it's back up. However, in refusing to give in to the trolls, both the photographer and the couple depicted are doing their bit to remind the world that there's nothing wrong with being gay and that this kind of love should be celebrated.