South Carolina’s “So Gay” ad scandal continues to stink.

State tourism officials claim the ad, which they refused to fund, was approved by a “low-level employee.” Advertising agents in the know, however, tell a very different tale:

Pursuing a deal to advertise South Carolina as “so gay,” tourism officials in the state hosted a visit to showcase gay-friendly hotels, bars, and beaches, two European executives told Q-Notes.

“A three-day visit was arranged for me,” said Andrew Roberts, CEO of the gay travel agency Amro Worldwide. The visit included free hotel stays and escorting by tourism representatives, at least one of whom was reimbursed for mileage.

Impressed by what he experienced during his April trip, Roberts gave the go-ahead to Out Now Consulting, the gay marketing agency selected to execute the ads.

South Carolina’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism (SCPRT) initiated and approved the campaign at every step, according to Roberts and Out Now CEO Ian Johnson.

What’s more, tourism officials saw the ad in May and apparently didn’t have any problem. It wasn’t until a conservative blog went wild that the advert become an international political issue.

Johnson goes on to say that the man who approved the ad was more than “low-level,”

That person who approved the ‘So Gay’ advertising campaign, and was later forced to resign by SCPRT, is the International Sales Manager, responsible for the UK – a person with more than a decade of management experience and an immense amount of respect within the global tourism marketing community.

Johnson and company also debunk South Carolina’s claims that they don’t do niche marketing.

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