Artist: Kenneth Gruenholtz

Medium: Photography

Censored by: Instagram

Date of censorship: April 2019

Was there notification of removal? If so, what was the reason given?

Yes, I was advised that the image violated Instagram’s Community Standards regarding Nudity and Sexually Suggestive material.

Was there the opportunity to appeal? If so, did you appeal and what was the response?

Yes, I appealed and the appeal was denied.

What, if any, were the consequences of the removal for you? 

At the time, the focus of my work was photographing gay couples. Because of this  deletion and other deletions I had to stop posting most of my couples work because my account was identified as vulnerable to deletion by Instagram. As a result, couples stopped contacting me about being photographed and this effectively prevented me from continuing this series.


What is most frustrating here is that the image does not violate any Community Guidelines that I am aware of. The models are not nude. There  is no pubic hair, no penis and no close-up of a butt. And, there is no sexual activity or suggestive sexual activity. This is simply an image of a real-life couple hanging out after a gym workout.

Much of my Couples work is inspired by the Berlin Memorial which acknowledges the discrimination and violence gay men endured during WWII. I discovered the memorial just four years ago during a visit to Berlin. It consists of a small black shack across the street from the Holocaust Memorial. The shack has only one window and when you look through it, there’s a one-minute black and white loop of two attractive young men, fully clothed, caressing and kissing one another in an affectionate manner. For me, the memorial was incredibly moving—why would anyone want to harm something so beautiful?

After seeing the memorial, I decided to create a COUPLES series that would likewise endeavor to present positive images of gay men together. However, the Instagram algorithm, by deleting this image and other positive images of men together, is now preventing me from sharing my COUPLES work and sharing the positive message of the Berlin memorial.

Artist Website:

Artist Instagram: @gruenholtz @gruenholtzvintage