Two years ago, photographer Lindsay Foster documented new fathers BJ Barone and Frankie Nelson holding their son Milo for the first time. Milo’s surrogate mother had just delivered him, and Foster captured the intense emotions of the moment.
The photographs resonated with many people on the Internet; they quickly became viral sensations with thousands of Facebook shares.
The initial responses to the photographs were largely positive and supportive. Barone and Nelson responded to them in a statement on Foster’s Facebook page, which was later reposted by BuzzFeed.
“Thank you to everyone out there who has taken the time to like, comment and share our picture!” Barone and Nelson wrote. “All comments posted are respected, although we may not agree with the negative ones, the positive ones far outweigh the negative…Milo is surrounded by unconditional love and he will grow up knowing many different types of families and accept everyone, (intolerant people included).”
Recently, however, the photographs have resurfaced, and it appears that the intolerant people are trying to have the last word.
In recent weeks, Foster’s photographs have appeared in anti-gay advertisements and campaigns around the world. Irish politician Mary Fitzgibbon recently tweeted the photo alongside the caption, “We must reaffirm the right of a child to grow up & be loved where possible by their own mother & father.”
Meanwhile, conservative Italian political party Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) included one of the images on a poster. According to BuzzFeed, the English translation of the text that accompanies the image is, “He will never be able to say ‘mom.’ We should be defending the rights of the children.”
Barone and Nelson were outraged by these unauthorized and homophobic appropriations of their photos, so they took to Twitter and encouraged their supporters to tweet messages of support for LGBT families using the hashtag #WeAreFamily.
Help stop this! R pic is used for hate! #wearefamily #gaydads #@GaysWithKids https://t.co/yjnCm0ZQpy— BJ Barone™ (@bjbarone) February 25, 2016
Naturally, droves of LGBT individuals and allies quickly responded, many directing their tweets at Fitzgibbon herself.
Hey @MaryFitzgibbon #wearefamily Love is Love! pic.twitter.com/dNT32Ap4Px— Dennis & Jody (@dennisandjody) February 24, 2016
#WeAreFamily support Milo and his Dads! pic.twitter.com/gMtlBPoREG— Jamie (@hiimjamie) March 3, 2016
Barone told the CBC that his approach is to “kill them with kindness.”
“We were interviewed in an Irish newspaper, and I said thank you to this woman because she’s giving us an opportunity to teach our son that there is intolerance, and that you can do something about it,” he added.
Fitzgibbon has since made her Twitter account private, so it’s unclear whether she has continued to tweet the photo of Barone and Nelson to her followers. Hopefully, their message of love and kindness has found a way to reach her.
Photo via Kalle Gustafsson/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)