A New York Times satirical cartoon portraying Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin as romantically involved has been slammed as insensitive by some in the gay community.
The seemingly infatuated pair are depicted on a date in the second episode of Trump Bites – a three-part series which uses handpicked audio of Mr Trump speaking to tell an animated, fantasised story.
At one point, Mr Trump is shown clutching Mr Putin’s waist and the shirtless duo are seen kissing passionately while riding a flying unicorn through a rainbow-filled sky.
“Yet again, LGBTIQ people are being used as the butt of someone else’s joke,” Dale Park, co-convenor of the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (VGLRL), told The New Daily.
In the roughly minute-long clip, Mr Trump is heard speaking highly of Mr Putin.
“I do have a relationship with him [Putin] and I think he’s done a very brilliant and amazing job,” he says.
The video was first published by The New York Times in late June, but drew fresh criticism after a joint press conference between the two presidents in Finland on Tuesday.
VGLRL’s Mr Park said the “disappointing” and “offensive” video reinforces “deeply held” views that gay relationships should be “mocked” and “made fun of”.
“I think it’s done because it’s thought that both Trump and Putin would have a problem with being portrayed as being in a same-sex relationship.”
He said it’s “quite lazy” to ridicule their relationship by making a reference to homosexuality.
This is homophobic. It is implying that being gay is an insult for both of these men. It implies that being gay would emasculate them. It implies that calling them gay together would anger them and incite reaction. This is beneath us. https://t.co/Zk95DgQOpN
— Phillip Picardi (@pfpicardi) July 16, 2018
Thousands of social media users went into a critiquing frenzy over the controversial video, with many describing it as “homophobic propaganda”, “disturbing” and “unacceptable”.
CEO of Minus18, Micah Scott said if the intent of the video was to insult Trump through depicting him as gay, it would be understandable why some people within the LGBTIQ community would be hurt, especially if they have been on the receiving end of these type of jokes.
LGBTIQ relationships have a long history of being subjected to discrimination, Mr Scott said.
“For many, this is still felt today through the use of insults typically disguised as humour, used to demean or invalidate our love.”
But NYT contributor Dan Bell said the video was merely a satirical animation, adding, “I’m gay and I wish the crybabies having a hissy fit over this cartoon would just shut up”.
Shelley Argent, national spokesperson for the Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays organisation, said she did not find the video offensive.
“I have a gay son. I don’t think him being gay is offensive,” Ms Argent said.
“I think it’s more having a shot at Trump and Putin than it is the LGBT community.”
In a statement to NBC News, a NYT spokesperson said the video was “not meant to be homophobic”.
“The filmmaker’s vision was one of teenage infatuation portrayed through a dream-like fantasy sequence,” the spokesperson said.
“He would have used the same format to satirise Trump’s infatuation with another politician, regardless of sexuality or gender.”