Roughly two months after gay couples in
Virginia won the right to marry, an 'ex-gay' group's message on a
billboard in Richmond is stirring controversy.
The group Parents and Friends of
Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) promotes the message that gay people can –
and should – change their sexuality.
Their billboard on Interstate 95
includes an image of identical male twins under the caption:
“Identical Twins: One Gay. One Not. Nobody is born gay.”
Beth Panilaitis, executive director at
Rosmy, an organization which supports LGBTQ youth, said that she was
shocked by the billboard's message.
“I am shocked and really disappointed
that at the end of 2014, we have a billboard in the middle of our
city that says that kind of hate,” Panilaitis told CBS affiliate
“No young person or adult should be walking down the road and see
something that says that they are not okay as they are.”
Bill Harrison with the Richmond Gay
Community added: “We do not know why people are heterosexual.
Maybe when we figure that out, we can determine why some people are
not. What we do know is that this type of therapy has caused many
people to commit suicide.”
PFOX Executive Director Regina Griggs
defended the billboard in a statement.
“We find it interesting that the
attacks against the billboard and ex-gay community have nothing to do
with the facts,” she said.
“Identical twins have the same genes
or DNA. They are nurtured in equal prenatal conditions. If
homosexuality is caused by genetics or prenatal conditions and one
twin is gay, the co-twin should also be gay. … Because identical
twins are always genetically identical, homosexuality cannot be
genetically dictated. No one is born gay.”