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February 2, 2012

Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Acceptance in One Photo


Race, gender, sexuality, and acceptance in one photo in the South. The life partner of a slain female police officer has her tears wiped away as she holds hands with her deceased partner’s sister.

You have to read the caption to understand the situation, but once you do, you get a glimpse of how real-life America has incorporated what the media feels is outside the norm.

CAPTION: Aiken Public Safety Officer Master Cpl. SANDRA ROGERS’ brother-in-law WADE JOHNSON salutes as CAROLYN NEAL wipes tears from Rogers’ life partner FRANCIS WILLIAMS face as she holds hands with Rogers’ sister JENNY JOHNSON, right, as taps is played during a burial service at Bethany cemetery.

– Karen Hull

(photo: Zach Boyden-Holmes via Sacramento Bee)

  • Shirley

    Such a human portrayal … all anyone should see is human grief — and respect — for a human life lost. Gay, straight, black, white, old, young … nothing else matters in a moment like this. It’s a tragic, sad, beautiful photo of humanity experiencing loss, and humans coming together to bear witness to that loss. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone could see this photo as nothing more, nothing less, than that, and honor and respect the feelings of those portrayed?

  • bks

    What’s with the red bow ties?


    • Karen H

      Good question. I couldn’t find an answer on Google or from the many news stories about the funeral.  I did read that many officers and organizations from different locations attended the funeral though and the ties may be linked to that.

    • Janis

      I may be wrong but I read the bow ties as a gay code (in a kind way!) Therefore the caption did not surprise me because it “normalized” a potential gay presence. I like the juxtaposition of the male figures that suggests “something” diverse is going on.

  • Catherine McCallum

    As the mother of a lesbian, this picture brought me to tears. It is, indeed, moving to see the support of the community behind the grieving partner, but the picture can’t show how bereft she really is. In the eyes of the law Ms. Williams was her partner’s roommate and best friend, but she was not a spouse and is not automatically entitled to the spousal benefits the rest of us count on. We can only hope the community will continue to offer its support and aid after the last notes of taps have drifted away.

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