Sign using homophobic slur in front of Tallahassee business draws criticism

A sign outside of Tallahassee auto shop Rick's Repair Shop displays a homophobic slur on Monday, May 29, 2023. The slur has been redacted by the Democrat staff.
A sign outside of Tallahassee auto shop Rick's Repair Shop displays a homophobic slur on Monday, May 29, 2023. The slur has been redacted by the Democrat staff.

A sign with a homophobic slur outside of a Tallahassee business is causing controversy on social media.

On U.S. Highway 90, in front of Rick's Repair Shop, a sign reads: "Veterans get a day f--- and child molesters get a month why."

Records indicate the auto repair shop, located in the Baum Community in Leon County, is affiliated with a Tallahassee man named Rick Hughes, who has not returned the Tallahassee Democrat's call for comment.

The shop's sign is known for displaying attention-grabbing, and sometimes controversial, messages.

Jackson Peel, communication director for the Democratic Caucus of the Florida House of Representatives, was told of the sign on Sunday by a friend. Peel drove down U.S. Highway 90, also known as Mahan Drive in Tallahassee, snapped a picture of the sign and posted it to Twitter.

"This kind of bigotry should have no place in our Tallahassee community. It is an embarrassment and the people at Rick’s Repair Shop should be ashamed of their foolish, hurtful, and wrong words," the tweet reads.

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As of Monday afternoon, the tweet had over 460,000 views.

"I understand that we are a community with diverse beliefs and opinions, but this crosses the line. It's offensive, wrong, and meanspirited. Pedophilia and homosexuality are not connected," Peel told the Democrat. "I think this is wrong and sends the wrong message about our community. We are not this. Implying that LGBTQ people are a danger to our children is an old trick used to justify persecution. Why would the people at a business think this kind of language is ok?"

The sign coincided with Memorial Day weekend, which closes National Military Appreciation Month, established by Congress in 1999.

"Though Memorial Day is the only federally recognized holiday in May, there are a handful of other specific military holidays spread throughout the month including Loyalty Day, Public Service Recognition Week, VE Day, Armed Forces Day and Military Spouse Appreciation Day," according to the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff website.

Pride month, which celebrates LGBTQ equality, is celebrated in June across the United States.

On Twitter, Leon County Democrats blamed Republicans for inciting the sign.

"Direct connection between this and dangerous right-wing rhetoric from the Republican Party," the post says.

Tallahassee City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow also criticized the business on Twitter.

"I’m not sure the sad, miserable place a person must be in to take the time to put this up, but I do know the majority of folks in Tallahassee reject this hatred and respect the freedom to be who you are, love who you want and support LGBTQ rights every month of the year," he wrote.

By Monday afternoon, a Facebook user by the name of Kevonte Ford posted that there had been signs in support of the LGBTQ+ community placed across the street from the repair shop.

This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: Florida business sign with anti-gay slur draws criticism