Earlier this week, blog posts on the Advocate's website and Towleroad.com reported that radical gay anarchist group Bash Back had taken credit for the September vandalism of a Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center (MGLCC) billboard at Poplar and High downtown.
But a local representative from Bash Back Memphis told the Flyer that his group had nothing to do with the action. Their perceived involvement was likely implied from a blog post praising the vandalism on Bash Back News, the group's national website.
Bash Back, a group of self-proclaimed "radical transfolk, queers and allies," is critical of the mainstream LGBT movement, which it sees as trying to assimilate with heterosexual culture. Though it does not appear that the group is actually claiming responsibility for vandalism on its website, a Bash Back blogger had this to say praising the vandalism of the billboard featuring a gay Marine:
"First, sending gays to be military fodder is NOT pro-gay or conclusive whatsoever to gay liberation. State militarism only reinforces the dominant structures, and the racism/heterosexism they perpetuate, as well as reducing the number of gay people in the world (both those in Amerikkka and the countries Amerikkka is colonizing/conquering)."
The billboard was one of five National Coming Out Day advertisements paid for by private donations to the MGLCC. It featured gay local former Marine Tim Smith in uniform and read, "I'm gay and I protected your freedom." The billboard was ripped down about a week after it went up in mid-September.
The Bash Back post goes on to criticize MGLCC as "racist, anti-queer, and anti-trans" and it criticizes the center for spending $3,500 for a billboard that Bash Back claims promotes militarism in a poor African American neighborhood.
MGLCC director Will Batts says he's open to discussing the group's concerns if they are willing to sit down and talk. Says Batts: "We have an open door policy here for anybody that has issues with how we conduct business."