Sma' Talk Wi' T

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Clear Channel Doesn’t Take Pride In Its Billboards

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UPDATE: Clear Channel turns down Gay Pride Week Parade billboard. But they did approve two billboards that show a man in drag, and two dads sitting on a couch with their son for electronic billboards in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. Here’s my confusion: If the below billboard could be deemed offensive or unusable, how would a billboard of a man in drag be appropriate? Come on, Clear Channel. Either don’t sign a contract and take money from an organization whose message you don’t approve or put up the billboards. A billboard of a man in drag is not offensive?

You’ve Come A Long Way, Gay-by!

Long ago and far away in a Fantasy land filled with vacationing families and happy children, there was laughter, great memories to hold onto, and innocence. Entering the Magic Kingdom was one of uncontainable bubbly excitement. Welcome to the 21st century and now as you approach Disney World on I-4, you may get questions from the backseat: “Mom, Why is Superman gay?” Even worse. Your five year old may already know about homosexuality and why Johnny has two dads.

Did we really need to have a billboard with a gay Kevin Costner look-alike Superman? Except for the billboard, Gay Days came and went this week and Orlando really didn’t notice. But hundreds of thousands, if not millions of drivers, vacationing families, and tourists were forced to look at it and come to grips that gays were in town. I would think it would feel raunchy and degrading to be profiled by one’s sexuality.

It wasn’t always like this. In 1997, the Christian Coalition armored itself for battle in the fight against Gay Days at the amusement parks. I didn’t agree with the Southern Baptist boycott of Disney World. Boycotts (Except when led by Bill O’Reilly) are usually never successful. There’s nothing amiss with Disney or other businesses encouraging through niche advertisement or on the news that they are having “special days.” The homosexual market is practically the only group that has money to spend in these economic times. Gay Days brings millions of dollars to Central Florida. That’s a good thing. It’s also important to know when these events are happening in your area. In fact, before vacations, I usually ask hotels, attractions, airlines, if there’s going to be any conferences, unions, special booked groups (like high school or college graduates), extravaganzas, or media events that will be staying or on board during the dates we would like to attend. We decide before we pick a location whether a group will interfere with traffic, our schedule, or our enjoyment. Have you ever been on board a jet with 200 high school seniors flying eight hours non-stop to their senior trip destination? Not fun.

Do I have to say that I have nothing against gays? But I do take offense when someone’s sexuality – heterosexual or otherwise – is forced into everyday conversation with the necessity of explanations at inappropriate times or embarrassing confrontations. Who cares if you’re gay? I don’t want to know. I don’t want to see billboards for Gay Days, the Booby Trap, Erotica on Ice, or the Vagina Monologues. Please can’t we keep something private and out of our children’s lives till we know that they are mature? Shouldn’t parents be able to make that decision for their families?

One’s sexual preference, whether it’s the same sex, blondes, Jello, or rubber is no one’s business but your own. It shouldn’t be used to create minorities, laws, lawsuits, or special privileges. Don’t expect affirmation for thrusting your sexual preference into everyday life. Again, I’m not condemning or judging. I don’t mind who you love or have a commitment to. I’m not talking about holding hands, affection, or a simple goodbye kiss. Please – life is tough enough as it is and if you have found true love, God bless you. It’s more than a lot of heterosexuals have.

The gay lifestyle has come a long way in twenty years. Gays are in every country, profession, income levels, and faiths. There are millions of gays worldwide that are comfortable with their sexuality. Most gays are private about their lives and don’t want to be part of the “in your face” scene.

Our gay friends are everyday folks and great fun to be around. They agree with me and have similar expectations for their friends, family, and neighbors; i.e. don’t slobber all over your heterosexual loved one in public, it’s just gross. I agree with them. Sexuality should be private and preserved in the sanctity of one’s home not displayed on the beach, at public attractions, or on interstate billboards.

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