Gay Activists Flip Off Ronald Reagan Portrait At White House

Gay Activists Flip Off Reagan

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.

Lila Shapiro contributed reporting.

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