A certain billboard advertisement in Texas’s Dallas County is facing accusations of “promoting” the gay lifestyle.
As a part of the Update Your Status campaign by Greater than AIDS, a nonprofit, the ad pictures a gay male couple; one black, one racially ambiguous, it reads “Update Your Status.” Like the other ads in the campaign, it has a banner that encourages viewers to find out about free and low cost HIV testing through 1-800-CDC-INFO or HIVtest.org.
Dallas County has the highest rates of new HIV infections in the state, and nearly half of those are among the black community. AIDSVu estimates that in Texas, there are 3.7 times as many black men living with HIV/AIDS as white men; according to 2009 statistics, 70.6% of new HIV infections in Texan men were transmitted through homosexual activity. Only 9.3% of cases could be traced back to heterosexual intercourse.
The campaign also has ads aimed at straight women, and Greater than AIDS does not focus solely on the LGBT community.
Bishop Eli Jacobs told Fox News that when he saw the ad, his reaction was “Now what are they up to? They trying to promote two men being together?”
Councilwoman Vonceil Jones-Hill, a black woman who has consistently refused to have anything to do with local Pride events, wrote to Fox 4 to complain about the billboard, although what she said about its message reads simply as an observation: “Presenting African American men who are homosexuals as acceptable. Engaging in such conduct presents health risks. Feel free to continue what you are doing but protect your health.”
In the comments section of the Dallas Voice, Facebook user Matt Houser pointed out, “she is against a billboard that is arguably more beneficial to her community than [to]others… since blacks are a group which have shown fast growth in [HIV] infection rate over the last few years.”
User Alex Byrd agreed, posting, “For real? Are we so stuck on the behavior of homosexuality that we cannot see that there are two human beings on this billboard? What is Council Woman Vonciel Hill saying by her offense to this billboard? 1) If you do not act in the way we believe you’re supposed to act, then you should die? 2) If you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (wait, we haven’t even dealt with that one yet), then you are undeserving of good health care and public encouragement to be healthy? 3) We have [no]gay people in our city, and if there are we want to ignore their existence?
“If you think gay people are sinners, remember that even Jesus acknowledged the sinners and was concerned about their health.”