Virginia's LGBT Community Protests 'Ex-Gay' Billboard

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Monday December 15, 2014

On Sunday, nearly 400 people turned out to protest a highly controversial billboard, which erected in Richmond, Va., last week by an "ex-gay" group, which believes that no one is born gay.

Richmond Times Dispatch reports the protesters, mostly from the Gay Community Center of Richmond, were outraged at the billboard created by Parents & Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX), an anti-gay organization that believes in gay people can "turn" straight via conversion and debunked therapy. The billboard, located on Interstate 95, reads "Identical Twins: One Gay. One not. Nobody is born gay."

Bill Harrison, the Gay Community Center of Richmond's executive director, told the Richmond Times Dispatch that the group has a positive message to counter the billboard.

"We're not ashamed anymore. It would've been very hard to get this many people in a publicized photo 40 years ago," he told the newspaper. "You humanize an issue with a photo."

Protester Les Quintana, who has lived in the area for 18 years said she wants to "counter lies with love" and that being a member of the LGBTQ community is "not a lifestyle. It's my life, and it matters."

Also in attendance was Carol Schall and Mary Townley, one of the same-sex couples who challenged Virginia's gay marriage ban.

PFOX was founded in 1998 and claims to be an alternative to the misinformed gay family groups which insist that parents can only prove their love for their gay child if they support gay rights and affirm their child's self-proclaimed gay identity," according to the group's website.

Though the billboard talks about "twins," the two photos used for the anti-gay ad are of the same person, who is not a twin. Last week, it was reported that the model used in the billboard's photo, spoke out about being used in the anti-gay ad.

Kyle Roux, who lives in South Africa, told NBC 12 that he is an "out and proud" gay man.

"I was obviously quite shocked," he said, before adding that the photo used on the billboard was taken about a decade ago for a stock image shoot he did and that he signed away the rights to the image, thinking it would be used in commercials and in cooperate ads and brochures.