Memphis Flyer reported on Monday that a billboard which depicted a U.S. Marine alongside the words “I’m gay and I protected your freedom” was “ripped to shreds” late Friday night. The billboard was sponsored by the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center (MGLCC) and was meant to highlight National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11.
The marine featured on the billboard is Tim Smith, a Memphis local. Smith served from 2001-2004 and was discharged under the discriminatory Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy just 20 days before he was set to deploy to Iraq.
"We choose not to be stopped by fear. Instead, our community unites in solidarity and with the belief that we too deserve equality," said MGLCC director Will Batts in a statement released on Saturday. "Although we are saddened by yesterday’s hateful expression of intolerance, we are proud of the local Memphian that chose to be the face on the billboard."
Four other billboards, also sponsored by MGLCC, are still intact across the Memphis area.
Memphis Commercial Appeal reported on Monday that MGLCC has spoken with Clear Channel, which owns the billboard, and plans have been made to have the billboard restored.
GLAAD will continue to update readers on the media’s coverage of this incident and updates can be found on GLAADblog.org.