Wednesday, July 16, 2008

'South Carolina is So Gay'


Or, so says the ad travel agency hired by the State of South Carolina to promote the Palmetto State to European vacationers.

The ad campaign has caused something of a freak-out.

A state employee has resigned and officials have disavowed an international advertising campaign that led to calls for an investigation of tourism posters proclaiming “South Carolina is so gay.”

The campaign, which plastered the London subway with posters advertising the charms of South Carolina and five major U.S. cities to gay European tourists, landed with a resounding thud in South Carolina, where the issue of gay rights has long been a political flashpoint.
A resignation? An investigation? All because gay people were encouraged to visit South Carolina?

That's all it can be. Surely, nobody took the campaign to mean that everybody in South Carolina is gay. Hopefully, nobody in South Carolina thought that's what the ad meant, or that it would be interpreted that way.

Then again...

After The Palmetto Scoop, a South Carolina political blog, uncovered the promotion last week, Republican state Sen. David Thomas of Greenville protested the campaign and called for an audit of the advertising budget overseen by the state Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism.

“South Carolinians will be irate when they learn their hard earned tax dollars are being spent to advertise our state as ‘so gay,’” Thomas said in a statement.


Oran Smith, president of the Palmetto Family Council, a conservative activist group in Columbia, the state capital, said that at first he thought the ads were an Internet hoax.

“I think with today’s economy, we have to be really smart with our tourism dollars, and South Carolina’s market, very clearly, is the family-friendly market,” Smith said. “So if we want to spend our dollars in a way that’s wise, we need to go after our market, and our market is families.”

Said Ventphis Stafford of Charleston: “We’re so gay? Nah. Wrong state. Go to California.”
He thought the ads were an Internet hoax.

Sure, because there's no way that the merchants, restaurateurs, and hoteliers in the Great State of South Carolina would want any part of the $64 BILLION that the gay tourism market is worth in the United States.

Of course not! That recession is all in your head, after all. No need to go crazy and start accepting gay money.


It seems like only last month that South Carolina's tourism agency was out and proud about the state's efforts to attract gay vacationers.

Oh, wait. It was only last month!

According to Kirsty Dillury, spokesperson for South Carolina Tourism -- the new 'So Gay' campaign is an important one.

"South Carolina has a lot to offer gay travellers, and we think that people may be surprised to see our destination reaching out to the gay market [Sho'nuff! - ed.]," said Ms Dillury. "We are delighted to be involved with the 'So Gay' campaign in particular as it sends a powerful positive message to everyone that there is nothing wrong at all with a destination being described as "so gay [Guess again. - ed.]". For our gay visitors it is actually quite wonderful for them to discover just how much South Carolina has to offer -- from stunning plantation homes to miles of wide sandy beaches [to mouth-breathing homophobes who would rather eat their own children than put out a "Welcome" mat for gay people. - ed.]."
South Carolina was just one of the destinations promoted in AmroWorldwide's "So Gay" ad campaign.

Others included Atlanta, Boston, Washington, DC, and just up the road from where I live...

The irony is that the campaign was only scheduled to run for two weeks, starting on June 30. So, by the time gaskets started blowing in South Carolina, it was already over.

Conservatives - always behind the times.

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