Photo Of Two Men Kissing Removed From Gaston County Museum

GASTONIA, N.C. — A photo showing two men kissing after a marriage proposal at a 2019 Charlotte Pride event was removed from an exhibit at the Gaston County Museum at the direction of the county manager.

Gaston County Manager Kim Eagle also rejected a second photo submitted for the exhibition by freelance photographer Grant Baldwin showing Gaston County deputies arresting a Black protester near a Confederate monument.

The decision to remove the LGBTQ photograph and the rejection of the Black protest photo has caused local advocacy organization Charlotte Pride to respond.

Charlotte Pride officials say they find it abhorrent that any democratically-elected government or its employees would seek to censor a photograph of a marriage proposal in an artistic, photographic art display contained in a government-funded museum like the Gaston County Museum.

“Here we go again,” said Clark Simon, President of the Charlotte Pride Board of Directors. “Gaston County’s decision to censor this photograph and others seeks to silence and erase the existence of LGBTQ and minority people in Gaston County and the wider region.”

Officials say Eagle reviewed the exhibit and told staff at the museum to take the image of the two men down immediately.

Eagle then told staff to work with the photographer to find a different image that would be more considerate of different viewpoints.

Charlotte Pride officials say they find it “especially offensive that a local government body would seek to censor photographs of LGBTQ and Black life during June, a month in which LGBTQ people commemorate their rights and when Black people celebrate Juneteenth, the official end of slavery in the United States.”

The museum exhibition was intended to explore the history of photography and highlight local Gaston County photographers.