The Catholic League, along with conservative forces in the U.S., protested the work as "anti-Christian" because of an 11-second segment featuring ants crawling over a bloody crucifix. (I think molesting little boys is "anti-Christian" but they don't seem to be too concerned about that. I suppose we all have our priorities).
The work is part of the gallery's exhibition of gay and lesbian portraitures of life — Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture — running through Feb. 13, 2011.
The removal of A Fire In My Belly sparked an outcry in the arts community. The Association of Art Museum Directors blasted the Smithsonian for bowing to "unwarranted and uninformed censorship."
Both the Andy Warhol Foundation and the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, which loaned images to the Hide/Seek exhibit, proclaimed they would stop donating money to the Smithsonian, which oversees many of the museums in Washington, D.C.
A non-profit Washington art gallery, Transformer, has pledged to keep showing the piece in its storefront window every day for 24 hours until it is reinstated at the National Portrait Gallery.
Since the video's removal on Nov. 30, other galleries in the U.S., including ones in New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, Minneapolis and Pittsburgh, also began screening it.