June July 2016
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Gay Man in 'Ex-Gay' Billboard's Counter-Ad: 'I Was Born Gay'

Gay Man in 'Ex-Gay' Billboard's Counter-Ad: 'I Was Born Gay'

The latest response to an antigay group's billboard in Richmond., Va., which claimed that "nobody is born gay" uses the same format, font face, and even the same model to send a very different message. 

The new billboard, paid for by progressive nonprofit Planting Peace, appears on the same stretch of Interstate 95, just one exit south of the initial antigay message, at the Belvidere offramp, a representative with Planting Peace confirmed to The Advocate.

After the original billboard, posted by Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX), drew international media attention last December, local LGBT groups organized a series of responses, including a billboard that reads "We are all born to love." 

But Planting Peace's retort goes a step further, using the same model used in the antigay billboard — but with a new, updated photo in place of the decade-old stock photo that out model Kyle Roux was shocked to see used on PFOX's billboard. 

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"I'm pleased to have had the opportunity of working with Planting Peace, not in retaliation, but in promoting a strong and positive message to the LGBTQ community and in counteracting PFOX's damaging misconceptions," said Roux, the gay South African man whose stock photo was used in the PFOX billboard. After the PFOX billboard gained international attention, Roux contacted a local TV station to explain that not only is he openly gay, he's also not a twin

Using that statement as a jumping-off point, the new billboard mimics the PFOX format, instead reading: 

"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." 

The billboard is scheduled to remain up for one month, though Planting Peace is asking supporters to crowdfund the billboard's continued display. The nonprofit confirmed that Lamar Advertising — the same company that put up the PFOX ad — accepted Planting Peace's version for publication and placement. 

Planting Peace, a nonprofit historically dedicated to environmental justice, has increasingly become an outspoken LGBT ally. In 2013, Planting Peace established the rainbow-hued "Equality House" in Topeka, Kan., across the street from the infamous Westboro Baptist Church, and later hosted a drag show benefit to "drag down bigotry" at the antigay "church." 

"When I read the story about PFOX and their campaign, I immediately knew I had to connect with Kyle and work with him on a counter-message," said Aaron Jackson, president of Planting Peace. "Planting Peace supports and embraces the LGBT community, who are constant targets of harmful messages from groups like PFOX. We need to do all we can to make sure the LGBT community knows these hateful acts don't represent the feelings of everyone out there, and they have the support of so many people in this world willing to stand with them against acts of bullying and intolerance."

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