Hundreds gather for picture to counter ex-gay billboard
Hundreds gathered at the Gay Community Center of Richmond this Sunday to show their support for LGBTQ Richmonders after a controversial billboard ignited a firestorm online.
Terra Courtland, a Richmond resident, said she came out to support the gay community. She said when she first saw the billboard, she was blown away.
Courtland, a lesbian mom, was there with her two kids, and stressed it was particularly important for gay families to come out to “show we’re just like everybody else, just trying to raise our kids and live here.”
Courtland stood outside the GCCR along side Jason Coast, another Richmond native. They were entertaining their children as the massive crowd waited inside the building to be summoned for the photo.
Coast, who identified himself as a straight ally, called the billboard unnecessarily hurtful, and something that set Richmond back as a city.
“If some of us are being discriminated against, then we all are,” he said
Robyn Bently, Chair of SAGE, a 50+ LGBT group, was scheduled to hold an event the same day this impromptu photo shoot was scheduled, but they made room for the photo op as well.
“It’s like we put out the gay-Bat signal, and everyone showed up,” Bently said, amazed by the crowd who turned out with about 24 hours notice.
“People are tired of gays getting bashed,” she said. “Showing up was the right thing to do… this is a time of year when everyone’s really busy and they showed up anyway.”
Bently mentioned a bill being proposed by Del. Hope which aims to ban the kind of therapy the billboard supported from being used on children. ”It’s important for us to stand up for the young people.”
Specifics about the future of a billboard with a postive message are still up in the air, however Bill Harrison, ED at the GCCR, said he was confident the image taken today would be used.
“It was great to see everyone out here for this reason. It’s good to know we can come together, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender people, allies and everything in between, and stand up for whats right,” said Harrison.
Earlier this month, a billboard supporting ex-gay therapy went up along the 64/95 corridor near downtown Richmond. Parents and Friends of Ex Gays (PFOX) paid for the billboard, which contained the message “no one is born gay” and and image of two “twins.”
The theory they used, based on one twin being gay and one twin being straight, has been decried by the study’s author, and the model used in the billboard is not only not a twin, he’s also an openly gay man.
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 (credit samuel). 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.
On Thursday, GCCR Executive Director Bill Harrison put out a call for all Richmonders to come to Sunday’s event and help show RVA as a community who supports sexual minorities.
GOP 2016 Presidential platform supports “religious freedom,” ex-gay therapy, traditional marriage and the bible taught in schools
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- Virginia legislator compares being gay to cancer as ex-gay therapy bill voted down in Senate subcommittee, January 26, 2016
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