APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – People are now talking about two signs in Appleton and one of them has many residents and city leaders outraged.
Jamie Boyce is the author of the controversial billboard with the homophobic slur at 200 N. Richmond St. in Appleton says, “It [the billboard] was about the incompetence of government.”
Boyce says he was trying to make a political statement. “I put Joe McCarthy on it and it was talking about communism. I didn’t realize he was that he was so much with the homosexuals. I thought it was more communism. So I was a little ignorant of that that it would be such a lightning rod.”
Kathy Flores, Director of the antiviolence programs with Diverse and Resilient says, “There’s no possible way that it [the billboard] can be misconstrued, especially cause he had McCarthy up there who was somebody who went after LGBTQ people.”
Flores says the use of that slur is harmful. “In the Fox Valley, 83% of our suicides are LGBTQ youth.”
Lee Snodgrass, Wisconsin State Assembly says, “It’s [the billboard] a homophobic slur and I don’t know how that can be misconstrued. It’s widely known as offensive to the LGBTQ plus community. I don’t know anybody who uses it without knowing that’s going to offend somebody so I would have to disagree with Mr. Boyce.”
The city of Appleton is countering the sign with a message of its own.
Appleton’s Mayor Jake Woodford says, “I worked with our colleagues in the police department and public works to put a sign up reminding folks hate has no home here and also reminding our community about dignity and respect.”
Officials say Appleton has no power to take down the billboard because the constitution safeguards its language.
Snodgrass says, “The state government and local government is very limited in what we can do about removing offensive signs because they’re protected under the first amendment.”
Flores says, “If you want to spread a positive message don’t use a homophobic slur, don’t use a racial slur. Send a positive message of love.”
Boyce says, “I guess I would apologize for that. I have no homophobia whatsoever. I would like people to know that I have nothing but love in my heart.”
A protest against the sign with the slur will be held Saturday at 2 p.m. on 200 North Richmond Street.