Against the backdrop of a challenge to
Virginia's ban on gay marriage reaching the U.S. Supreme Court,
Richmond has “come out” as a destination for LGBT tourists.
The bold appeal is from the
organization Richmond Region Tourism, whose campaign declaring that
Richmond is leaving the closet behind is being broadcast through
print ads, online banner ads and on social media.
“Of course, outsiders think they know
Richmond,” an announcer says in a video for the campaign, titled
“The capital of the Confederacy, the stuck in the past, the
unwelcoming, the intolerant Richmond. We've heard the comments, and
“It's time for the world to see the
LGBT community we're proud to call our own, and the people that have
risen up to support it. We're saying goodbye to the closet, and
you're going to have to say goodbye to your old opinion of Richmond.”
In a print version of the campaign,
Richmond comes out gay to various cities. “Hey Boston,” one ad
starts, “I'm gay. And I can't change. Just like you can't change
the way you say 'park.' … Love, Richmond, Virginia.”
The bold bid for the gay dollar comes
as Virginia takes center stage in the marriage equality debate.
Last week, the Supreme Court announced
that petitions stemming from cases challenging bans in five states
will be considered at a September 29 closed-door conference.
In July, the Fourth Circuit Court of
Appeals in Richmond struck down Virginia's ban. Appeals courts have
also invalidated bans in Utah, Oklahoma, Indiana and Wisconsin.
According to The
New York Times, the campaign was developed by a group of
students attending the V.C.U. Brandcenter at Virginia Commonwealth
University in Richmond. Professor Kelly O'Keefe oversaw the project.
Coming out is “a pivotal point in
people's lives,” said Katherine O'Donnell, vice president for
community relations at Richmond Region Tourism. “We're using that
as a symbolic way for Richmond to come out” as a destination for
This, the campaign states, is the