An image of a rainbow-coloured poppy has sparked a huge online debate that has angered many people this week; a debate which continues to roar and grow on platforms like Twitter and Instagram.
This is one of those incidences that shines a huge spotlight on the amount of ignorance and misunderstanding that LGBTQ+ people still have to face in today’s society. In the UK, the plight has certainly lessened and things are getting better – but prejudice and ignorance is still out there and this story is proof of that.
It all started when a screenshot of an eBay listing for a glittery rainbow-coloured poppy found its way onto social media and went viral. The eBay user was selling a customised poppy splashed in rainbow Pride colours for £6. Once news of the item hit social media, the seller faced an almost immediate backlash from people online, with many online users arguing that there “doesn’t need to be a gay version of everything”.
I should mention that these rainbow poppies were not official Royal British Legion poppies – they were manufactured and sold by the seller. The Royal British Legion does not produce poppies decorated especially for LGBTQ+ fallen soldiers, but does create a specialised purple poppy to commemorate the animals lost in the war and a black poppy to remember African, black, Caribbean and Pacific Island’s contributions.
Online homophobes came for the seller anyway; some messaged the seller via eBay, others took the debate to social media and it grew from there. The rainbow poppy has become the newest target for anti-LGBTQ+ views; with a mix of views ranging from the mildly ignorant to the viciously homophobic. I think it’s important to share some of these, so here are a select few.
According to the seller, the negative feedback got too intense and they were forced to update their listing with this message:
“PLEASE STOP THE VILE AND RUDE MESSAGES THAT YOU ARE SENDING ME!
“I DONT MEAN TO OFFEND ANYONE
“I HAVE ONLY ONE AGENDA AND THAT IS TO MAKE MONEY FOR A CHARITY
“I have sold thousands of variations of these poppy badges over several years and everyone seems to be very happy with them.”
According to PinkNews, LGBTQ+ groups were forced to express that the community is not “hijacking” the poppy tradition (I think I read “not everything has to be gay” during my research), but welcomed increased visibility of queer people’s efforts in the wars. Many LGBTQ+ people believe that recognition of queer soldiers’ involvement in both World War 1 and World War 2 is virtually non-existent.
I truly commend all of those LGBTQ+ people brave enough to speak out against this ongoing criticism. Of all of the comments I’ve read, I have to say, this tweet by Twitter user @AlexGough_ uniquely really paints a clear picture (and not just ’cause I hate football). He writes:
“The British legion sells Poppies with football teams on them and no one cares, We [LGBTQ+ people] don’t want to make Remembrance Day all about the LGBT movement. Gay men fought for this country but nah Swansea city deffo did more for the war effort. Do you care or are you just homophobic?”
Here are some other responses to the online debate from the LGBTQ+ community on Twitter:
I’m a gay man and I personally don’t need a rainbow poppy (although some would, and I understand why); for me, this story isn’t really about whether or not a rainbow poppy should exist. For me, what should be taken from this story is an understanding of the sheer amount of anti-LGBTQ+ hate and aggression ravaging social media – all this news story really did was shine a bright light on it and give it a focus.
Please think before you type, because I guarantee there are young LGBTQ+ people out there reading these comments and it will affect them.
Images via Ebay,
Having worked in children's media and publishing for almost a decade, Ben is thoroughly excited to now be able to swear in stories and features. He is such a big fan of Disney and Horror films that he started an LGBTQ+ podcast called 'Once Upon A Scream'. His mum listens.