The organizers of an Oklahoma biathlon promoted their upcoming event with a Facebook post showing two men posing alongside a rainbow flag used as a target.
The Oklahoma Run ‘n’ Gun is scheduled for July 18 in Pawnee, but outrage over the image is overshadowing the race and shooting competition, reported KFOR-TV.
The Facebook post shows two men posing with rifles alongside a rainbow flag, with a caption reading, “new high visibility targets on the 500 yard range.”
Human rights activists said many people interpreted the image as a threat against LGBT people.
“People took it as a threat, people felt very threatened,” said Troy Stevenson, executive director of Freedom Oklahoma.
The event organizers tried to assure activists no threat was intended, saying the image was supposed to be a joking response to complaints that their targets were difficult to see.
“You could definitely tell by reading the comments that they were trying to make a joke out of this,” Stevenson told the TV station. “But once again, it was going way too far and offending a lot of people and it was very threatening language.”
The race organizers, who declined to speak on camera, said they were part of a fitness and liberty-minded group and not a hate group.
Watch this video report posted online by KFOR-TV: