years people have been trying to figure out what makes a person gay.
Scientists, psychologists, and theologists alike have been stumped.
course, all they have to do is ask Schenectady City Council member Joseph
Allen. He knows what makes kids gay: advertising.
in Schenectady, New York, an LGBT advocacy group called In Our Own Voices,
along with the state Department of Health, began a billboard campaign that's
part advocacy and part HIV prevention. And let me tell you, the billboards are
might want to shield your eyes before reading this next part because just a
mere description of one of these billboards could make you gay or, if you're
already gay, even gayer.)
billboard has a photo of a young African-American man surrounded by his family.
It looks like his mom and his dad and maybe his brother. Or his boyfriend. That
part is not clear. Next to the photo it reads, "I AM GAY" and
underneath says, "And this is where I stay," followed by, "We
have always been a part of this community." The billboard also contains
IOOV's website and phone number.
to the Schenectady Daily Gazette, the other two billboards in the series
include photos of gay black men in church and playing basketball. Each
billboard includes "I AM GAY" and the message about community.
case, some folks in Schenectady are super pissed about these billboards and so
they took their concerns before the City Council at their Jan. 10 meeting.
to the Gazette, Rev. Alfred Thompkins, who likened gay people to "thieves
and liars," told the council he was "really bothered by the message
these send" to young people. "A 13-year-old looks at these billboards
and says, 'That must be it, I must be gay,'" Thompkins said. "That
goes directly against God's purpose."
What gay person doesn't remember seeing his or her first billboard and deciding
right then and there to be gay? Thompkins clearly understands how this whole
gay thing works.
Gazette also reported that a woman who provides daycare to a 2, 4, and
8-year-old accused the billboards of promoting "inappropriate sexual
expression" and argued that they should be limited to "adult business
zones," which the Gazette described as "industrial areas at the
outskirts of the city." She said she didn't want her daycare kids exposed
"to such content."
can blame her? Gay men with their families? Gay men in church? Sick. It's
enough to make a child's eyes explode into pools of flamin' hot blood.
to hope that the people on the Schenectady City Council have some sense even if
some of their constituents don't.
where councilmember Joseph Allen comes in. He agreed with both of the people
who spoke out against the billboards and offered his own searing insight.
I don't care if you're gay, straight or whatever, but I don't think it's necessary
to advertise for them," Allen said according to the Gazette. "This is
not kosher, as far as I'm concerned."
not clear from the news story whether a rabbi was consulted, but Allen did
worry about the impact of the billboards on kids.
adult, fine, you can do what you want," Allen continued. "But who's
going to read these? Young people, vulnerable kids. They don't say, 'Adult
should. Because Allen apparently thinks that there's something pornographic
about the word "gay" paired with a photo of a gay man and his family.
And by claiming that "vulnerable" young people would read the
billboards, he's perpetuating the completely false idea that gays somehow
truly vulnerable young people who read those billboards are, indeed, the LGBT
kids who "have always been a part of this community." And maybe the
billboard messages will have an impact on them. Not to "make" them
gay, but to make them think, "Hey, maybe I do have a future here. Maybe I
don't need to kill myself. Maybe I am okay."
Allen's Schenectady that's apparently a negative message. Seeing as he
"called for legislation that would require billboard owners to get their
messages approved by the council" (which was quickly smacked down per the
whole freedom of speech thing), it's frightening to think what he would deem