LGBT Activist Convinces Billboard Owner To Take Down ‘Ex-Gay’ Ads In Waco, Texas


Signs Promoting Dangerous, Discredited Practice Were Paid For By National Group, Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays

The owner of three billboards in Waco, Texas, that are currently displaying ads for "ex-gay" therapy reportedly plans to take them down. 

The ads for the dangerous, discredited practice — which say, "Ex-Gays Prove Change is Possible" — were paid for by Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX). 

In response to the ads, an openly gay pastor in Waco launched a fundraising campaign for an LGBT Pride celebration next year. Meanwhile, local LGBT activist Carmen Saenz of InterWaco contacted the owner of the billboards, Swift Outdoor Advertising, which reportedly agreed to take them down when the contract is up at the end of October. 

"Rather than cause a lot of drama and create an 'us against them' environment, we spoke with the company and all is good," Saenz reported.

A representative from Swift Outdoor Advertising didn't immediately respond to a message seeking comment from The New Civil Rights Movement. 

Saenz added that she was concerned about negative media attention Waco was receiving over the billboards, noting that the city is one of only a handful in Texas with nondiscrimination protections for LGBT municipal employees. 

"Waco has a wonderful city and county government who I know has the back of the LGBT community," Saenz said. "So, hopefully, folks will see that Waco/McLennan County really is a safe and welcoming place." 

Saenz told NCRM that although the owner of the billboards agreed not to renew the contract, he was adamant about not taking a position on the issue of "ex-gay" therapy.

"In my last call with him he stated he just wanted to be left alone and promised he would not renew the contract," Saenz said. "He had no idea of the dangers of reparative therapy and I can not confirm this, but my feeling is that he received some flack for stating he would not renew PFOX's contract. I will be contacting the other companies in Waco, hoping to convince them not to take a contract from PFOX." 

PFOX's Executive Director Regina Griggs told KXXV-TV she was disappointed that people were responding to a message of hope with anger. 

"What we want to let people know is that there is hope if you are unhappy with your sexual orientation," Griggs said. "There is no scientific evidence to suggest you are born that way. If you are unhappy you can change."

The Rev. Charley Garrison, pastor of the Central Texas Metropolitan Community Church of Central Texas, said his fundraising campaign for the LGBT Pride celebration has brought in more than $500. 

Garrison said those who'd still like to make a donation can do so by mailing a check to: Central Texas MCC P.O. Box 1722 Waco, TX 76703


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