A billboard on Interstate 95 is stirring up controversy in downtown Richmond. It says "nobody is born gay," and the organization claims to help people who have "overcome" being gay.
"Identical Twins," it reads. "One is gay, one is not. Nobody is born gay."
It's an ad posted on the interstate by a group called PFOX - Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays. It's an in-your-face message hitting where it hurts for many in the gay community.
"I am shocked and really disappointed that at the end of 2014, we have a billboard in the middle of our city that says that kind of hate," said Beth Panilaitis, Executive Director at Rosmy, an organization that supports LGBTQ youth.
The organization that posted the billboard did not return our media inquiry online, or a phone call. Their website says, "People deserve to know the truth about the many men, women, and children who have made a decision to change their lives," and that "it's important to remember that sexual orientation is a matter of self-affirmation and public declaration."
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - In a statement, Regina Griggs, Executive Director of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, said:
"We find it interesting that the attacks against the billboard and ex-gay community have nothing to do with the facts.
Identical twins have the same genes or DNA. They are nurtured in equal prenatal conditions. If homosexuality is caused by genetics or prenatal conditions and one twin is gay, the co-twin should also be gay…Because identical twins are always genetically identical, homosexuality cannot be genetically dictated. No one is born gay.
Every person seeking positive life change needs the love and support of family, friends, the community and the church. Thousands of individuals have made the decision to leave the homosexual life and will attest to the fact that change is possible. PFOX believes people deserve to know the truth and believes respecting the lives of those who have made a decision to seek change is part of building a tolerant society."
ROSMY leaders say that message on the board directly contradicts their message to LGBTQ youth.
"No young person or adult should be walking down the road and see something that says that they are not okay as they are," said Panilaitis.
She's not the only one. Bill Harrison with the Richmond Gay Community says the billboard doesn't make sense.
"We do not know why people are heterosexual," said Harrison. "Maybe when we figure that out, we can determine why some people are not. W
hat we do know is that this type of therapy has caused many people to commit suicide."
Copyright 2014 WWBT
. All rights reserved.