Acts of Anti-Gay Vandalism Include Gay-on-Gay Defacement

by Kilian Melloy
Wednesday Nov 18, 2009

A billboard showing a tall, proud Marine, saluting smartly and kitted out in full dress uniform, was vandalized in Memphis, Tennessee. The billboard ad, put up by the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center, read, "I'm gay and I protected your freedom."

The billboard's defacement was denounced as an act of homophobia, reported a Nov. 17 article at, but then a "Radical Transfolk, Queers and Allies" group calling itself Bash Back! took credit for the vandalism, denouncing the cost of the billboard ad--reported to be $3,500--and citing the high level of violence targeting trans people in the city: "11 trans women of color, 1 white transwoman and 1 transman of color" have been killed in Memphis, which also suffers from "one of the highest queer youth homeless rates in the nation."

Bash Back! was also behind an act of vandalism that targeted the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the Human Rights Campaign last month during a weekend march that brought GLBT citizens and equality activists from around the nation to the capitol to demand full equality before the law last month.

The group took credit for the September defacement of the Memphis billboard on Nov. 16, in a message posted at its Web site. "Sending gays to be military fodder is NOT pro-gay or conclusive whatsoever to gay liberation," text at the site added. "State militarism only reinforces the dominant structures, and the racism/heterosexism they perpetuate, as well as reducing the number of gay people in the world."

A second act of anti-gay vandalism in the city targeted the Gay and Lesbian Community Center. Two suspects allegedly assaulted police officers when the officers saw the young men trying to set fire to the rope on the flagpole before the center. A Nov. 13 article at MyFox Memphis said that after scuffling with the officers the suspects fled on foot; one of them, Ross Burton, 23, was apprehended later. The second suspect, Wesley Huggins, 22, was still at large.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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