Updated: Jun 22
News & Opinion
Amid a month dedicated to the celebration of the LGBTQIA+ community and its allies, billboards across the metro Atlanta area have been erected with a misleading message. The billboards read “Proud to be Delivered,” and are splayed with colors of the rainbow that have become distinctly associated with the LGBTQ+ community.
At first glance, it may seem as though these billboards stand for equality, however, they are the work of a local church in Cobb County who are performing a “bait and switch”. Their message is not one that is in support of the LGBTQ+ community but rather surrounds “ex-gay” testimonials.
The church and its pastors have formed a “conversion” campaign of sorts, and have developed a website to display the testimonials of individuals who have said that they were previously attracted to the same sex, but through religion, now identify as heterosexual.
Included on the website, are frequently asked questions surrounding sexuality at the intersection of faith and Christianity. The faces of the church’s campaign are also specifically African American “ex-gays”.
The erection of this campaign further perpetuates the rhetoric that both spirituality and religion cannot coexist with various sexual orientations. Furthermore, this tactic only continues to marginalize two minorities * African American and queer individuals, by extricating them from their faith and spirituality.
GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) has responded to the controversial billboards with their own digital billboard truck with a counter message aimed at affirming members of the LQBTQ+ community. The truck was stationed outside of the church in question for eight hours.
“The decision by two white ministers to plaster the images and narratives of Black “ex-gays” on a specially created website and in a predominantly Black city with a large Black LGBTQ population is no coincidence,” Darian Aaron, GLAAD's US South Director of Local News tells Gaye Magazine.
“It is a targeted attack that reinforces Bible-based homophobia and further erodes the Black family by influencing the rejection of Black LGBTQ youth and adults by their families as righteous. The result is often devastating for a dually marginalized group of people forced to navigate racism, homophobia, and family rejection simultaneously.”
Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD, also responded with the following statement:
“It is apparent the anti-LGBTQ extremists responsible for orchestrating this billboard are lashing out in a desperate attempt to claim moral superiority. With GLAAD finding a supermajority (91%) of Americans in support of LGBTQ equality, this dangerous rhetoric not only repels those seeking connection to a higher power but fails to adhere to the most basic Christian principle—love thy neighbor. To assume that LGBTQ people need to be saved and are not already people of faith is the epitome of spiritual arrogance. LGBTQ people are your neighbors: we are your family, friends, colleagues, and fellow worshippers.”
The following individuals and organizations have offered their support of GLAAD’s denouncement of the “Proud To Be Delivered” billboard:
Bishop O.C. Allen III The Vision Cathedral of Atlanta
Mary Anne Adams Zami Nobla—National Organization of Black Lesbians on Aging
Tracee McDaniel Juxtaposed Center for Transformation, Inc.
Jeff Graham Georgia Equality
Congregation Bet Haverim Atlanta, GA
Rabbi Michael Rothbaum
Jim Swilley Metron Community
Deondray Gossfield The Russelli & Hall Co.
Darlene Hudson Southern Unity Movement
Toni-Michelle Williams Solutions Not Punishment Collaborative, Inc.
Victor Jackson Glam Rock Soul Entertainment Group
Jim Farmer Out On Film
Lynn Green Rome Georgia Pride
Hayden Walter Rome Georgia Pride
Matthew Manley Rome Georgia Pride
Damion Parks-Weekly Parks-Weekly Ministries
Quincy James Rineheart Associate Campus Minister, Morehouse College
Patrik-Ian Polk Filmmaker and Producer
Eric F. Rangel Latino LinQ (LGBTQ+ nonprofit organization)
Leanne Rubenstein Compassionate Atlanta
Bishop Kevin Strickland Southeastern Synod ELCA
Rep. Park Cannon House District 58
Erick Allen Cobb County Democratic Committee
Chris McCain Atlanta Pride Committee