CHARLESTON — Prompted by only one complaint from the mother of a seven-year-old child, an ad from the Alliance for Full Acceptance (AFFA) “Acceptance without Exception” campaign was pulled from the Palmetto Grande Theater in Mt. Pleasant on Nov. 29.
The mother said she complained because her daughter wanted to know what “gay” meant.
The ads feature various statements, including “Some of the best employees are gay” and “Some of the best friends are gay.” The ad campaign began running at the theater on Nov. 23.
AFFA made history as the first organization to run a commercial ad in a mainstream theater. Other portions of the advertising blitz include spots on radio and television and billboard ads.
The theater said that they would be willing to show the ads on movies rated PG-13 or R, but could not show them on movies rated any less. The company which produces the commercial reels for the Palmetto Grande does not, however, create separate reels for separate screens. The technical specifications and production of the commercial reels make AFFA’s advertising in the Palmetto Grand an “all or nothing” deal.
“One family, rather than using the ad as a teachable moment, fell prey to confusing sexual orientation with sexual activity and found they couldn’t answer their child when asked, ‘What does ‘gay’ mean?’” AFFA said in a statement in their Nov. 30 email newsletter.
“The theater always reserves the right to choose ads that are appropriate for the community,” AFFA said, “but the simple fact is that positive messages about the GLBT community belong even in ‘G’ movies. Anti-gay slurs are prevalent in schools as early as kindergarten.”
The organization said that it is important for all community members to see positive messages about LGBT people because, “misinformation, homophobia and harassment based on sexual orientation impact all families and children, gay or straight.”
AFFA continued, “While addressing LGBT issues is sometimes seen as controversial, maintaining silence on this topic only reinforces homophobia.”
Jason Thurmond, general manager of the Palmetto Grande, was unable to give comment on the situation. Calls to a Consolidated Theatres district supervisor and Communications Director Ken Juno were unreturned by press time. Consolidated Theatres is based in Charlotte, N.C., with locations across North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Georgia.
In a follow-up statement in a second email newsletter, AFFA said Consolidated Theatres stated they had no problem with the ad, but that it just can’t be seen by children.
“Consolidated Theaters repeatedly assures us that they have no problem with the ad — just as long as it is not seen by children! As one manager said, ‘Some of my employees are gay.’ We couldn’t resist the opportunity to remind her that ‘Some of her best employees are gay.’”
AFFA also stated that the advertising company which placed the ad has “taken full responsibility for the situation.” The organization will be getting a full refund.
“That money can now be applied to expand television and radio ads in the new year,” the Charleston group said.
To learn more about the Alliance for Full Acceptance and its advertising campaign, visit www.affa-sc.org.