Vandals destroyed a billboard featuring
a gay marine in Memphis Friday night.
The billboard, one of five paid for by
Gay and Lesbian Community Center (MGLCC), featured an out marine
with the caption “I'm gay and I protected your freedom.”
Will Batts, executive director of
MGLCC, said the crime surprised him because it occurred on a heavily
trafficked street just blocks from downtown Memphis and a police
“Although it's in an iffy lot, it's a
fairly well trafficked street and being so close to the main police
station downtown – a block and a half – it doesn't seem that this
could have happened quickly. To completely tear down the billboard –
it wasn't defaced, it wasn't shredded, it's just gone. And for that
to happen on such a busy street is actually shocking to me,” Batts
told On Top Magazine on Sunday.
The five billboards are part of an
awareness campaign for National Coming Out Day, the October 11 event
during which gay men and lesbians are asked to come out to a friend,
family member or co-worker.
A rally to protest the vandalism is
being organized for the weekend. Expected among the speakers is Tim
Smith, the Memphis-area out marine featured on the billboard.
When asked if he suspected anyone,
Batts said no: “There could be a lot of possibilities but we have
no idea who did it.”
MGLCC is urging the police to conduct a