The Carytown neighborhood of Richmond, Virginia is a notedly bohemian area. No one expected one of the most progressive neighborhoods in the capitol of Virginia — found this year to be the most LGBTQ-affirming state in the South — to host an explicitly queerphobic billboard above a local establishment. Last week, that’s exactly what residents were faced with.
The recently installed rainbow billboard reads “LGBTQ” in bold letters across the top. A fine sign… until one hits the following text.
“What did Jesus say?” the billboard asks. “What does the Bible really say?”
The questions are followed by a link to the website of the Christian organization Seed Sowers, where the billboard’s message is made very directly.
The site’s “LGBTQ” tab attempts to contextualize the words of the bible’s various authors as the words of God himself, and insists that true believers must turn their backs on their gay/trans “desires” to walk with Christ.
They condemn things like Old Testament stoning, while also clearly believing that queerness is absolute sin conflated with adultery and incest. Yada yada, same old same old.
Of course, the surrounding community saw to the true message and intention of the signage immediately.
“I can say that I was very disappointed, I was sad… I was frustrated,” local LGBTQ+ community member Oliver Lesher explained to WWBT. “They placed it over Carytown, which is composed of people from my community — like that’s one of our main neighborhoods in Richmond — so I very honestly believe that this billboard was an intimidation tactic against our community.”
Even the business it was placed on without their knowledge, Mary Angela’s Pizzeria, opposed the billboard’s posting.
“We don’t own the billboard, and we don’t own the building, we rent it,” owner Mario Lopresti says. “It’s frustrating sometimes to see things that happen on top of your head that you can’t do anything about.”
It’s clear that the “Seed Sowers” chose the wrong neighborhood for their hateful rhetoric to overlook. Due to public backlash, the sign was torn down without a scrap of its faux-rainbow in sight in less than a week.
The thousands of dollars it cost to get their discriminatory message up lasted all of a few days.
Naturally, folks are celebrating its downfall: