NEW YORK — Mayor Eric Adams announced the placement of billboards denouncing the “Don’t Say Gay” law in five major Florida cities to bring state residents opposed to the legislation to New York City.
“This political showmanship of attempting to demonize a particular group or community is unacceptable and we are going to loudly show our support and say to those living in Florida, ‘Listen, we want you here in New York,'” Adams said at a City Hall press conference Monday.
“Other folks want people to hide their color. We like to show our color and this rainbow is representative of this community,” Adams said in front of poster-sized copies of the advertisements including one with a colorful collage of the word “gay” around the phrase, “Come to the city where you can say whatever you want.”
Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill, dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” bill by opponents, bans instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity from kindergarten through third grade. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed it into law last week.
“I’ll say it because the mayor probably won’t, but I want to give a big FU to Gov. Ron DeSantis for his lack of leadership and solidarity to the LGBTQ community,” New York City Council Member Chi Ossé said at the City Hall press conference.
Adams has partnered with private companies to erect the digital billboards in Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa and West Palm Beach for eight weeks from April 4 through May 29. City taxpayers will not incur any costs from the campaign that’s being funded by the advertising firm Kinetic, Adams said.
Billboards and social media will display colorful art with catchy phrases like “People say a lot of ridiculous things in New York. ‘Don’t Say Gay,’ isn’t one of them” as part of the campaign.
The announcement comes a month after Adams angered local LGBTQ advocates by appointing officials with histories of making anti-gay remarks to senior positions in his administration. On Monday a reporter asked Adams if he’d commit to demands some of advocates made after a March meeting with the mayor about the controversial hires. One of the asks was to install an office of LGBTQ affairs at City Hall. Adams refused to make any promises.
“We believe he made a big mistake in making those appointments,” said Allen Roskoff, a prominent LGBTQ rights advocate, who stood with Adams at Monday’s press conference after rallying against the mayor just a month earlier.
“We decided to move on and work with the mayor,” Roskoff said. “There’s a lot that we can do together.”
The new mayor has a mixed record on LGBTQ issues. He supported same-sex marriage in 2009 when was a state senator, making an impassioned speech on the body’s floor, comparing laws against the unions to those prohibiting interracial couples from wedding before 1967.