The U.S. Marine Corps is facing outrage on both sides of the political aisle for posting a photoshopped image of a combat helmet with rainbow bullets attached to the back.
The photo was posted to the marines’ Twitter account on June 1, recognizing the first day of Pride Month, a month dedicated to celebrating the LGBTQ2 community that is often marked with marches and parades.
The marines tweeted the image with a caption that reads: “Throughout June, the USMC (U.S. Marine Corps) takes #Pride in recognizing and honoring the contributions of our LGBTQ service members.”
“We remain committed to fostering an environment free from discrimination, and defend the values of treating all equally, with dignity and respect.”
Many people in the LGBTQ2 community did not take kindly to this attempt at inclusion, nor did conservatives who felt the post excluded heterosexual service members.
For some, the post came off as “rainbow-washing,” where companies and institutions plaster ads and products with rainbows for Pride Month in order to come across as allies to the LGBTQ2 rights movement. This becomes a problem when the company or institution in question does very little to tangibly fight against discrimination or address wrongs against LGBTQ2 people within their organizations.
Pride also has deep roots in struggling against injustice perpetrated by governments and law enforcement.
The Stonewall Inn riots in June 1969 are considered the origin of modern-day Pride marches and were a watershed moment for the LGBTQ2 rights movement. The riots were triggered after police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar and important community space for LGBTQ2 New Yorkers.
One Twitter user ironically commented under the Marines’ post, “Getting killed by a rainbow bullet is so progressive.”
Another user found it to be an attempt to distract from wrongs committed by the U.S. marines, linking to an image that reads, “Hey everyone, it’s pride! You know what that means: forgetting about our war crimes because we have a rainbow logo now!”
This user found that the image was inspired by a movie poster for Stanley Kubrick’s film Full Metal Jacket.
Another commenter agreed, and also added that the use of rainbow bullets was tone-deaf in the aftermath of a number of high-casualty shootings in the U.S.
Someone else brought up the recent case of Joseph Scott Pemberton, a member of the U.S. marines who was charged with murdering a Filipina trans woman in 2014. Pemberton said he strangled 26-year-old Jennifer Laude in a motel room after discovering that she was trans, saying he “felt violated and angry.”
Another user was also upset at the marines’ image, though not for the same reasons as above. This commenter took aim at the marines for not recognizing a straight Pride month for heterosexual service members.
A person who identified themselves as a marine took issue with the image for drawing attention to differences between service members.
Though many are upset at this attempt to celebrate Pride, one user pointed out that it created unity nonetheless.