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'Nobody Is Born Gay' Billboard Tells Drivers on I-95 in Virginia

By    |   Friday, 12 December 2014 07:31 AM

A billboard declaring "Nobody is born gay" on I-95 in Virginia has raised a number of eyebrows since going up earlier this week.

NBC affiliate WWBT reported that the ad is sponsored by Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX), a nonprofit promoting therapy to make gay people no longer gay.

"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," said Beth Panilaitis of Richmond, the executive director at Rosmy, an organization that supports LGBT youth.

The billboard itself depicts two identical twins, one straight, one gay, and reads, "Identical twins: One gay. One not. We believe twin research studies show nobody is born gay."

According to The Huffington Post, the research study cited on the PFOX website associated with twins is interpreted by the group as proving the non-existence of a so-called gay gene. The main researcher who conducted the study, Dr. J. Michael Bailey, however, has said that "the results of that study for both men and women were consistent with moderate genetic influence" – meaning heterosexuality and homosexuality are likely caused by a combination of nature and nurture.

"We do not know why people are heterosexual," said Bill Harrison of the Richmond Gay Community. "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."

Harrison was referring a plethora of ex-gay "therapies" that have been experimented with for decades, and widely discredited by most major medical organizations, including the American Psychological Association.

Some Virginians who find the billboard offensive have called for PFOX's public relations company, Hamilton Strategies, and the billboard owner, Lamar Advertising, to take down the sign.

"Please keep in mind that the advertisement is a message from PFOX and not Lamar Advertising," a billboard spokesman said in a response statement, CBS affiliate WTVR reported. "We support the First Amendment right of advertisers and believe that it is in the best interest of our company and the communities we serve to accept advertising copy openly. We do not accept or reject copy based upon agreement or disagreement with the views presented. We are firmly committed to our policy."

PFOX also released a statement reiterating its argument that "No one is born gay" and defending the billboard.

PFOX is a response to Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), a group founded in the 1970s that seeks to support and affirm such identities.

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A billboard declaring "Nobody is born gay" on I-95 in Richmond, Virginia has raised a number of eyebrows since going up earlier this week.
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Friday, 12 December 2014 07:31 AM
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