A campaign aimed at black gay men in
Schenectady, New York is whipping up controversy.
The campaign to raise awareness in the
African-American community features mostly young black men with the
slogan “I AM GAY.”
One billboard features three black men
on a basketball court with the caption, “I am gay, and this is
where I play.” A black minister holding a Bible and a black
parishioner inside a church are featured with the caption, “I am
gay, and this is where I pray,” in a second billboard.
City Councilman Joseph Allen told
the Times Union that he's opposed to the campaign.
“This kind of billboard is putting
the stamp of approval on a gay lifestyle,” Allen, who is black and
insists he's not homophobic, said.
The Albany-based group In Our Own
Voices is behind the billboard campaign.
“I thought it would be useful and
pertinent to have the campaign in the Capital Region because of the
numbers for HIV and AIDS among gay black males have risen
significantly,” Tandra R. LaGrone, executive director of the group,
told the paper. “You have to start from a place of respect in
order to address the stigma and homophobia of being a black gay man.”
Some members of the black clergy have
also spoken out against the billboards.
“It's directly against God's word,
and what God hates, I hate,” Pastor Richard Parsons of Consecration
Temple of Church of God Christ said.