Billboard Company Disgusted By Ad, Promises To Take It Down

CREDIT: Facebook/Joel 2:25
CREDIT: Facebook/Joel 2:25

This month, a new billboard in the Dallas area is promoting “Reparative Therapy: Real Therapy… Really Works.” The link on the ad directs toward the therapy practice of David Pickup, a practitioner and proponent of ex-gay therapy who has very publicly fought — unsuccessfully — to defend the harmful, ineffective treatment from being banned for minors.

Pickup confirmed to reporter John Wright that the Texas billboard was his. Wright also noted that Jeremy Schwab, the head of Dallas ex-gay ministry Joel 2:25, had promoted an image of the billboard on Facebook, proclaiming, “Hopefully, this will help get the Truth to those who can benefit.”

ThinkProgress spoke with Terry Kafka, president of Impact Outdoor Advertising, the small Dallas billboard company that is hosting the ad. Kafka explained that they had been convinced the ad was for couples therapy, having never heard the term “reparative therapy” before. He described the true content of the ad as “repulsive to me personally,” promising that the ad would be coming down by next week at the latest. “If we had known, we wouldn’t have put it up in the first place.”

A billboard ad promoting ex-gay therapy similarly caused controversy in Virginia last month. That ad, posted by the ex-gay organization PFOX, asserted, “We believe twins research studies show nobody is born gay,” featuring two different pictures of the same model, who is not only not a twin but is also openly gay. Though Lamar, a national billboard company, agreed to keep that ad in place, Kafka promised, “There’s no way you’d ever see one of those on our billboards.” He said that at Impact, they have a “live and let live” policy and they carefully assess the messages on controversial billboards before agreeing to put them up.

ThinkProgress contacted Pickup, who explained that his Texas office is the larger of his two offices (despite his involvement challenging California’s law banning ex-gay therapy for minors), which is why he purchased the ad there. He clarified that his treatment is not about suppressing homosexuality, but “resolving issues that cause homosexuality.” He explained that his patients reject the idea that their same-sex attractions are in-born, but instead they stem from childhood “gender identity inferiority” and “unmet male emotional needs” that become sexualized during puberty. His patients tell him that once they resolve these issues, their homosexual feelings dissipate or lessen.

Major medical organizations like the American Psychological Association reject the idea that anything in childhood can “cause” homosexuality and urge doctors not to use any form of ex-gay therapy, because it has been found to be ineffective and harmful. Nevertheless, the Texas Republican Party endorsed ex-gay therapy in its platform last year.