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Gay Ad Fans Flames in South Carolina

July 16, 2008 12:34 PM
by Josh Katz
South Carolina canceled its contract with an international advertising company because of promotional posters saying, “South Carolina is so gay.”

30-Second Summary

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The advertising firm attempted to demonstrate the appeal of a number of American cities to gay Londoners by placing such posters in reference to five U.S. locations. South Carolina was the only locale to complain about the ads, which also appeared in Atlanta, Boston, Las Vegas, New Orleans and Washington, D.C.

Out Now, the Australian advertising firm that developed the promotional campaign, called the idea “the gayest-ever mainstream media advertising campaign in London.”

Amro Worldwide, the travel agency that commissioned the ads, said
it would “send a clear message to everyone who sees this campaign that it is long past time that ‘so gay’ should be used as a negative phrase of disapproval.”

The South Carolina posters tout the state’s “gay beaches” and rich plantation history.

State Sen. David Thomas, R-Greenville, has led the opposition to the campaign. The state paid $5,000 for the posters from its tourism budget, and Thomas protested such use of tax dollars. A low-level state worker who reputedly approved the idea for South Carolina resigned a week ago, and the state said it would stop the payment.

The recent storm comes just weeks after a South Carolina high school principal, Eddie Walker, quit to protest the creation of a Gay/Straight Alliance at his school. Walker’s resignation ignited debate over gay rights in schools.

At the time of that controversy, Eric K. Ward wrote an article in the S.C. paper Free Times, pleading that, “the financial toll of South Carolina’s anti-gay culture is important to consider.”

Headline Link: ‘Gay Tourism Ad Causes Uproar in S. Carolina’

Background: Gay/Straight Alliance controversy in South Carolina

Opinion & Analysis: The tourism ads; impacts on economy

Reference: GLBT resources and travel

Related Topic: ‘Big Stink over Boston Fish Ads’

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