‘Coming Out’ Billboard Featuring Gay Soldier Destroyed in Memphis


One of five billboards featuring messages in observance of National Coming Out Day which were posted in the Memphis area was torn to shreds by vandals on Friday night. The billboard, posted at Poplar and Highland streets, featured a gay soldier who was discharged under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and read "I'm gay and I protected your freedom."

Below, what the billboard looks like today.


The billboards were created by the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center.

WMC-TV Memphis reports: "The campaign's purpose is to promote understanding of issues
affecting the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community in the
Mid-South. Police have not said whether there are suspects in custody. Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center President Heidi Williams says she's appalled by such an act of hatred. 'I
know that they intended to silence us with hate. However, we are
choosing to unite and come over that with a stronger voice, and a
message that we are here – and we deserve equality as well as everyone
else,' she said."

The MGLCC is planning a rally next weekend in response to the vandalism.


  1. Matt in PDX says

    Kudos to the MGLCC for responding forcefully to this kind of attack! I hope the rally is well attended. The bigots need to learn that these tactics will no longer shut us up. The days when they can force us back into the closet through intimidation are ending. The more they try to erase us from existence, the louder we will speak.

  2. Sam in Collierville says

    I live in the suburb of Memphis, and it just shows the whole country how back woods and closed minded some people are this area.
    Please don’t hold it against the other wonderful people that live in this area , and remember that we have a great community , and people that are open and accept people for who they are .

  3. says

    Considering the expense of a billboard, we are talking about a felony destruction of private property, not just a misdemeanor. I hope that they are able to find the individuals responsible for this and punish them to the fullest extent of the law – let’s see some prison time for this one!

  4. John says


    Before we start casting stones against you all in Tennessee…

    Lets keep in mind that “liberal” Los Angeles voted overwhelmingly for Prop. 8.

    And that the SFPD’s own statistics show that there are over 400 anti-gay crimes in “liberal” San Francisco every year. Most of them are cases of homophobic vandalism just like this.

    Homophobia is a national problem. It affects blue states and red states; rural areas and major cities; rich and poor; and so forth. It is not an isolated issue. And it is certainly not limited to the South.

  5. Jay says

    The statement that “‘liberal’ Los Angeles voted overwhelmingly for Prop 8″ may be misleading or inaccurate. There is a both a city of Los Angeles and a county of Los Angeles. I’m too lazy to look up the data, but I doubt the city at least “voted overwhelmingly for Prop 8.”

  6. Roger Ramjet says

    Upon further study of the Voting patterns over Prop 8 in California, it has become very clear to the state that those voting FOR prop 8 thought they were voting FOR gay marriage, not against. Especially in Los Angeles.

    However, the counties of Riverside and Orange leaned heavily in favor prop 8, as their populations comprised of mostly poor hispanic Catholics and Mormons who were told by their churches to vote FOR prop 8.

    As a Californian, and a liberal, I will now be voting AGAINST all pro-Illegal Immigrant issues on the ballot, from health care to border fences, in a Tit-For-Tat.

    PROBLEM: Christianity.

    ANSWER: Drop your bibles and step away from the religion!

  7. Chuck Lampman says

    I am 70 years old. I watch younger people in our Gay and Lesbian community. I often get the feeling that they just accept that their “rights” are protected. They are not. I have been there when they were not. My generation busted our asses to get to where we are. We must still be careful. We must still be dilligent. We must still and always remember that there are those that hate.

  8. Steve says

    Do we think that the rise in hate speech – perpetrated by FOX and Glenn Beck and the other haters with national media platforms – has anything to do with this? And the fact that people seem to be tolerating bad behavior in front of the media?

    Keep in mind, Tennessee is the heart of red country. Not entirely surprising.

  9. Tedski says

    I don’t mean to pick nits, especially when there are broader issues at stake, but the guy on the billboard is not a soldier, but a marine.

    I know it seems like a minor issue, but let’s remember one of the arguments from the other side: that the folks pushing for DADT repeal don’t understand military culture. Language is important. Getting something basic like that wrong (Soldiers sometimes get insulted being compared to marines, and vice versa) contributes to the idea that activists don’t understand or appreciate the military.

  10. hinbww says

    We need to go back to the early 1900s back then there was no married military men they were single and a lot of gays. I too am gay and I was a 4 star Col.Maj. I am 67 now but we need more gays in the military.

  11. says

    Tedski, that’s why we need more people from all walks to press for the repeal. I work with a group of academics who look at DADT from a research perspective. Often get accused of just what you’re saying, but everyone’s heart is really in the right place.

    Amanda Phillips
    Palm Center Digital Media Specialist

  12. Kristoffer says

    I hope that they put the billboard back up to… This time I hope they put one on top of the other, that way if it gets ripped down again – another one is their to greet the homophobes.