Springfield, Missouri’s chapter won PFLAG National’s 2013 Chapter Award for Advocacy for a successful billboard campaign, which continues to promote positive change in the Ozarks community.
Thousands of Ozark’s motorists view the three billboards during their daily commutes. Springfield, which is Missouri’s third-largest city, is a trade center for the Ozark Mountain region of southwest Missouri. Each billboard contains a thought-provoking message, including Someone You Know and Love is Gay and Someone You Know and Love can be Fired for Being Gay.
The billboard campaign began as advocacy effort, which gained traction in the summer of 2012 when Springfield City Council’s effort to amend the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance to include protections for LGBT citizens was defeated. Although adoption of the amendment was imminent––and would have made Springfield the 14th Missouri city to provide protections––the council backed down in the face of intense opposition, mostly from conservative religious groups.
As a result, PFLAG of the Ozarks initiated a multi-pronged education campaign to inform, educate, and advocate. The billboards have become an effective centerpiece of PFLAG of the Ozarks’ mission and accomplishes three goals:
- To prompt opponents to consider whether a friend or family member might secretly be LGBT,
- To remind city council that a significant portion of constituents are LGBT or family members of LGBT individuals, and
- To demonstrate support and affirmation to the LGBT community during a time of controversy.
PFLAG of the Ozarks knows the billboards are successful from the feedback received through phone calls of individuals reacting to the billboards:
- First, the advocacy effort generates calls from opponents. Callers typically say, “Do you know what the Bible says about being gay?” or “I would like you to tell me who I know and love who is gay.” This demonstrates the message is getting critics to think: even though the statements may be hurtful and ignorant, the act of calling demonstrates an understanding that the LGBT community is supported by active and vocal relatives and friends who are working for equality.
- Second, members of the LGBT community call regularly and share gratitude for the affirmation, knowing they are supported.
- Third, the campaign has heightened awareness of PFLAG of the Ozarks among the general public that drives daily past the highly visible billboards.
In 2013, PFLAG of the Ozarks won the Chapter Advocacy Award from PFLAG National for our Billboard Campaigns.
In 2017, the Chapter Advocacy Award was inducted into the Ozarks Gay and Lesbian Archive.
Later in 2017, PFLAG of the Ozarks revamped the original Someone You Know and Love is Gay billboard message with an updated look as well as added a new message, Someone You Know and Love is Transgender. These messages are currently cycling on a digital billboard in the Galleria shopping center, located at 1550 E Battlefield Road. This is a very visible location, right across from Springfield’s Battlefield Mall and other shopping and a high traffic intersection.