“Ex-gay” model returns to I-95 with new pro-gay billboard
Two Months after his face graced a Richmond interstate billboard, an “ex-gay” model is back, but this time he’s got a different message for Virginia commuters.
In December, model Kyle Roux of Cape Town, South Africa, had his image featured on a billboard (below) for conversion therapy proponents PFOX — Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX). But it turned out that Roux is not only not a twin, he’s actually a proud, openly gay man.
Roux said the pictures were taken in a photo shoot nearly a decade ago. He said he signed away the rights and was told the pictures would be used in commercial and corporate ads and brochures.
Now, with the help of the Kansas based LGBTQ-non-profit Planting Peace, his likeness is back in Richmond promoting a new message – “Dear PFOX: Identical twins? I’m not. I’m gay. Regardless of what you believe I was born gay. And I’m proud of who I am.”
Roux expressed his dislike for the use of his image back when the story broke headlines nationwide.
Today, he told the Huffington Post he was proud to be a part of the new billboard campaign.
“I’m a proud and openly gay man,” Roux told The Huffington Post in an email. “I’m no scientist, but from my own life experiences, and those of my peers, I do know that being gay is not optional.”
Ex-gay therapy has been routinely rejected by experts, and often leads to heightened anxiety, depression, and in some cases suicide.
For reasons such as these that combating ex-gay therapy, especially on minors, has been a hallmark of LGBT advocacy groups, like Equality Virginia who enlisted support from legislators to try and ban the practice.
While already illegal in California and New Jersey, a bill hoping to accomplish the same goal was brought before the General Assembly this year. However, it failed to make it out of a House Committee.
Planting Peace has a history of combatting anti-LGBTQ prejudice, even going so far as to purchase a house in Topeka across from where the vocal anti-gay group Westboro Baptist Church is based , and hosting same-sex marriages within.
The group reached out to Roux not long after it was revealed he was gay and proposed the idea of a counter billboard.Sitting just a little further down from where PFOX’s billboard once sat, Planting Peace’s is not the first billboard to be erected in protest.
Not long after PFOX’s billboard went up, the Gay Community Center of Richmond a photo shoot for their own billboard , inviting anyone who wanted to participate to stand for a group photo. The photo was then displayed on the electronic billboard and boasted the message “We are all born to love”.
The original PFOX billboard used science from a 2000 Northwestern University Department of Psychology study dealing with identical twins in which one was gay and one was straight. To PFOX, this states there is no “gay gene“:
20 percent of homosexual men had a twin brother who was also gay, while 24 percent of lesbian women had a twin who was also gay. Thus 80 percent of gay men and 76 percent of lesbian women had an identical twin that was heterosexual, suggesting an environmental component in the development of sexual feelings and identity.
PFOX’s use of the study has been deemed inaccurate by the study’s author, J. Michael Bailey.
So-called “ex-gay” activists like to claim that homosexuality is a learned behavior that can be fixed. What is your view?
People will often get confused in their terminology. They ask for example is homosexuality genetic or learned? Well, genetic is not the opposite of learned. I think inborn is the opposite of learned. A trait can be completely inborn without being completely genetic. And I think male sexual orientation is a case in hand.
I think that we can reject immediately the idea that male homosexuality is caused by having a distant father or an overbearing mother. We have lots of evidence to the contrary.
So, in your view, is sexual orientation inborn?
In men sexual orientation is completely inborn. The reason why I believe that comes from cases of boys who, due to some accident or medical condition, are turned into girls early in life and followed into adulthood. These cases are very rare. When these cases are followed into adulthood you want to know who are they attracted to?
If it’s nurture, then because they are raised as girls they should be attracted to men. If it is nature because they were born males, they should be attracted to women. And it is to women they are attracted in every single published case. There are about five cases in the literature like this. I think that if you can’t make a male attracted to other males by cutting off his penis and rearing him as a girl, then its impossible that sexual orientation is learned in men.
Del. Patrick Hope spoke out against the practice while announcing his legislative agenda for the 2015 General Assembly earlier this year.
“There is no on and off switch for sexual orientation,” said said Hope, who authored the bill. ” And within the medical community, there is… alarming evidence that [sexual conversion therapy] is psychologically harmful.”
In 2007, the American Physiatric Association created the Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation to produce an updated report on sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE). It’s results were released in 2009.
Judith Glassgold, Psy.D., was chair on the task force and explained that there is no evidence proving this type of therapy is successful.
“Contrary to claims of sexual orientation change advocates and practitioners, there is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation,” Glassgold said in a press release APA put out after their findings. “Contrary to the claims of SOCE practitioners and advocates, recent research studies do not provide evidence of sexual orientation change as the research methods are inadequate to determine the effectiveness of these interventions.”
This is not the first time PFOX has come into the Richmond area. In October 2013, The group asked the state legislature to stop funding “gay-transvestite centers at Virginia’s public universities,” claiming state funds are being used to “indoctrinate” youth into changing their faith.
PFOX went undercover to a number of state universities, including GMU, seeking on-campus resources for ex-gay therapy. In all cases they were denied the service.
Tyler Hammel is a college student who has an unhealthy obsession with comic books. He’s a proud cinephile, owning a sizable film collection that lets you know he doesn't have any friends. An aspiring filmmaker, Tyler currently works with the VCU student organization The Horn RVA, a group of like-minded video journalists with a passion for Richmond based music. When not crafting his own bio Tyler can be found misusing commas,
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