Two teens in Italy have gone viral for photobombing an anti-LGBT far-right leader with a same-sex kiss.
The man on the left is Matteo Salvini, the leader of the Lega Nord Party who serves as Italy's minister of the interior and deputy prime minister. Lega is a far-right party with an anti-immigration agenda. Recently Salvini addressed an anti-LGBT and anti-abortion group in the city of Verona.
He was in the city of Caltanissetta in Sicily for a rally last week when he posed for a selfie with Gaia Parisi and Matilde Rizzo, both 19. Except it turns out they weren't supporters, but two friends ready to photobomb Salvini by kissing each other.
"We queued with his supporters and when it was our turn, we kissed while I was taking the photos," Parisi told BuzzFeed News via Instagram DM.
"An officer immediately separated us, as you can see in the second photo. Salvini's reaction was giving a pat on Matilde's head and saying, 'auguri e figli maschi.' That's an Italian saying that could be translated with 'I wish you all the best and male sons.'"
"We ironically said 'thank you!' and we went away."
Although Parisi and Rizzo are just friends, they wanted to make a statement in front of Salvini as a way of "fighting hate with love."
"Our photo was a protest, we had an important message to share," said Parisi.
In particular, they were protesting Salvini's endorsement of the World Congress of Families, an event that brings together far-right and religious leaders and activists. This year it was held in Verona with the blessing of Salvini and his party.
"I decided to share the photo on my Instagram because politicians like Matteo Salvini, in our country, use social media improperly with propagandist purposes, so we thought we had to use all the means we have to be heard by people and by politicians," said Parisi.
Parisi and Rizzo have received tons of support online for the photo. The Instagram post has more than 28,000 likes, and people have been praising them on social media.
"You are wonderful, this is the Italy we love. Respect from France <3," said one person on Instagram.
"NUOVE IDOLE. Siete così belle e dolcii😍❤️🏳️🌈🏳️🌈🏳️🌈🏳️🌈," said another, which in English means they're calling Parisi and Rizzo their new idols.
"We hoped as many people as possible would sustain and share our message but we didn't think it could get this viral," Parisi said.
Parisi, however, said they've also received a lot of hateful comments as well, especially after Salvini posted the photos on his own Instagram with the caption, “Good wishes and good health, sisters."
"Moreover, a lot of people didn't understand the reasons of the protest, maybe they don't know about minister's positions about the Congress of Families," Parisi said.
"I would tell them to inform themselves about what our ministers do, above all in a political period like this, because their position are really significant in every single aspect of our lives."
The teens hope to inspire other acts of the #LoveChallenge — "an invite to do some forms of protests like kissing in front of conservative politicians, to fight hate with love."