One post was captioned that the sign was “something to remember this holiday season,” while another said “Just a friendly reminder that ‘the gays’ aren’t people. Brought to you by your local Salvation Army.”
Neither post included information about the photograph, such as its subject, the date on which it was taken, or any other details enabling readers to put the image in context. As a result, some people interpreted the photograph to be that of an actual Salvation Army volunteer announcing the organization’s views on its placard.
The image dated back to at least 2012, as evidenced by a blog post and Imgur page; the latter linked to a Reddit thread and captioned: “Next to a Salvation Army sign in Union Square, NYC.” All versions suggest that the photograph was taken in or before December 2012, and early versions universally identified the man with the sign as a protester of the Salvation Army, not a volunteer.
The Salvation Army’s web site details a “no discrimination” policy for LGBT individuals.
Although the origin of the image is still unknown, the scene it showed was originally presented as a protest and not a Salvation Army initiative. Nevertheless, we contacted the organization for further information about the photograph but did not receive a reply.