Newspaper agrees to run watered-down ad promoting gay event

Newspaper agrees to run watered-down ad promoting gay event

The newspaper agreed to run this ad, which has all references to gay and lesbian removed. The newspaper agreed to run this ad, which has all references to gay and lesbian removed.

September 29, 2005

6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- An advertisement for a gay awareness event in Knoxville called "Come Out Knoxville" has caused a controversy.

The October event is intended to be an awareness program.

But a local newspaper asked the groups sponsoring the program to change the advertisement.

The original ad purchased by the Rainbow Community Awareness Project to appear in the Fountain City Focus contained the words "gay" and "lesbian" printed several times.

The ad said "Come Out Knoxville, a national coming out day celebration." It included a listing of the bands playing and the address of the organization's Web site.

The ad the newspaper agreed to run has all the language referencing gay and lesbian removed.

Instead, it contains just one picture of an artist and a listing of where and when the event is taking place.

Shortly after the first ad was presented to the Fountain City Focus, the paper received pressure from special interest groups to not run the ad.

So publisher Steve Hunley and other representatives at the weekly paper agreed to sit down with Gary Elgin, director of the Rainbow Community Awareness Project.

"Steve Hunley is a very kind man and I think he has made steps to embrace us as a community," said Elgin. "He's not going to run the ad as we had designed it, but he has agreed to run an ad of one of our events and that's a step. That's building a bridge, board by board."

Hunley was out of town and unavailable for comment, but released a statement Thursday saying, "The Fountain City Focus is a community newspaper. Our focus is on the positive aspects of community. We choose not to involve ourselves in controversial social, cultural or religious issues. We prefer to leave that to the mainstream media."

Elgin says he is glad the accepted ad will appear in Monday's edition, though it's not as colorful or detail-specific as one that will appear in the Metropulse. But he says he thinks it will still draw people to the event.

"I'd like to invite all Knoxvillians who value human rights and diversity to please join us," Elgin said. "March in support of basic human rights for all because that's what Come Out Knoxville is all about. It's not about specifics, it's about basic human rights."

6 News checked with several newspapers in the Knoxville area to find out what their policy is on all advertisements. Each said they consider ads on a case-by-case basis.

The ad does not appear in every paper. That's because some papers' ad rates were considered too expensive for the sponsoring group.

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