Here's Why This Military Photo Is So Important

April 6th 2017

Lita Martinez

A photo of YouTube vlogger Max Emerson and his boyfriend has been making the rounds on Instagram:


A post shared by Max Emerson (@maxisms) on

The couple attended a gala over the weekend at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. And Emerson's boyfriend, Andrés Camilo a member of the National Guard, showed off his own photo:

The event was sponsored by the LGBT cadet group Knights Out. One of its founding members was West Point graduate Lieutenant Dan Choi, who was discharged from the Army under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," after he came out on The Rachel Maddow Show in 2009.

Emerson and Camilo have been getting lots of support — of the hundreds of comments they've received on Instagram, the overwhelming majority of them are positive:

Screen shot of comment on Max Emerson's viral gay army prom photo

Screen shot of comment from Max Emerson's viral gay army prom photo

Though there have been big gains for LGBT rights over the past few years, including the repeal of DADT, there's rising concern about what the future holds for LGBT Americans and servicemembers under the new administration.

President Trump recently scaled back protections for LGBT federal employees; data on sexual orientation and gender identity won't be collected on the next U.S. Census; and a group of 18 Republican Senators have also signed onto a letter asking President Trump to support a "religious freedom" bill — which opponents say could enable discrimination against LGBT individuals nationwide.

What's more, President Trump is considering Tennessee State Senator Mark Green as U.S. Secretary of the Army. Green would succeed former Army Secretary Eric Fanning — who was the first openly gay man to lead any branch of the U.S. military. The American Military Partner Association, an organization for LGBT servicemembers and their partners, said it was "deeply concerned" about Green's nomination, citing his support of anti-LGBT legislation in his home state.