Wednesday, July 23, 2008

S.C.: Who You Callin' Gay?

Amro adThey just won't stop. The South Carolina is so gay kerfuffle was giggling amusing the first four times. I wasn't about to write about it.

Please make them stop.

Cross-posting note: From Harrumph!

Now it's Stephen Colbert on the case (click his vid below). Plus, the BBC did a barely restrained interview with Chief Executive Andrew Roberts of the British travel agency who created and placed the ads.

In case you were on the beach for the past two weeks and missed the silliness, S.C. pols through Gov. Mark Sandford were shocked, shocked I tell you to find that a London ad campaign implied there was any reason for homosexuals to visit the Palmetto State.

South Carolina was just one U.S. tourist destination touted by just-north-of-London based Amro Worldwide, a huge GLBT-oriented travel agency. It placed posters in the subway station nearest the gay-pride celebrations there. Other locales include Atlanta, Boston, New Orleans and Las Vegas.

This seems to be a variation on Boston's reaction to the Lite-Brite ad campaign. Other cities took it in stride; we panicked and continue to justify the overreaction to the ridicule of everyone else. In S.C., a minor functionary in tourism lost a job, the state won't pay its roughly $5,000 contribution to the campaign. The legislators and other pols on record say, "No gays here," in their deepest voices.

It reminds a lot of folk of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaking at Columbia University last year. He got hooted and booed when he made the outrageous claim, "In Iran, we don't have homosexuals, like in your country."

The double hoot for the S.C. is first that South Carolina's tourism folk asked to play in the Amro campaign and approached the agency. Moreover, making a no-queers-here-no-way protest has guaranteed vastly better coverage than Amro could have bought, even with the extra $5,000.

As Roberts told the Beeb, South Carolina's economy, particularly the tourist industry needs visitors and dollars. He said the state tourism people arranged stays over four days in Charleston and elsewhere. The hotel and other folk were eager for the gay business (pink pounds as the BBC interviewer said). He attributes the squealing from Sanford not to the tourism department, rather to "behavior of their political masters."

Not surprisingly, Roberts said he had never thought of naming the state as a destination before they approached him. His company vets all locations, facilities, sights and activities before it adds it to its destinations. Yet when he visited, he was pleasantly surprised by the coast and Low Country. Charleston has the history, food and shopping. Myrtle Beach is huge, varied and not overly crowded. Hilton Head is at once quaint and cushy.There are numerous gay bars in each of the few cities in South Carolina. There are a lot of other resources and travel searches provide many options.

To the Beeb, he said, "This is never going to be a San Francisco or a Key West, but it's certainly a reasonable destination, particularly for the type of people who like to go to America and have don all the popular places."bobbert.jpg

Local note for Amro: Roberts said he was surprised at the state's nickname, that the palmetto was a cockroach. It is true that locals euphemistically refer to the big bugs there as either palmetto bugs or waterbugs, but the palm tree is the palmetto and both the states and roaches got their nicknames from that.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Andrew Roberts, chief executive of Amro Worldwide here.

I appreciate you covering this story.

Amro Worldwide thinks it is long past time when "so gay" should be considered acceptable as an insult, so we decided to reclaim it as meaning "so good."

We are a small boutique gay-owned business based just north of London. If any of your readers have travel plans, from hotels, tours and cruises or flights out of the United Kingdom right up to complicated worldwide travel itineraries -- we'd love to help.

You can browser ideas and buy online in USD, GBP or Euros at and pay using your local credit card. Alternatively, contact us directly via the link in the top right hand corner of our web pages.

Thanks very much for your support and we look forward to sending you off on your travels.

Andrew Roberts
CEO, Amro Worldwide