(This is one of the Squirt ads that the Toronto Transit Commission pulled from subway cars on Sept 9, 2015. “The reason ads were taken down is because they promoted having sexual relations in public,” a TTC spokesperson tells Daily Xtra.)
A video has surfaced online allegedly clearing up the mystery of who smashed a gay hookup site’s transit shelter ad in Miami in 2014.
The video seems to show a man who identifies himself as a 66-year-old veteran smashing a Squirt.org ad with a large rock.
“I’m 66 fucking years old. I’ve got nine children, two boys and seven girls,” he says. “I don’t want them seeing this fucking bullshit on the streets of the US of A . . . I’m a Marine. I didn’t fight for this shit to be put up on my goddamned streets. It’s disrespectful. It’s insulting to people that do not care about this shit, who do not want to see this . . .”
The man then smashes the transit shelter, tears out the ad poster and discards it on the sidewalk. “Show more respect for families, morals than putting that shit on a goddamn bus bench,” he tells the cameraman. “And I did it. I did it. You got it on film I’ll take the charge, but guess what? I stand by my morals and my motherfucking First Amendment.”
The vandalism was first reported in November 2014. The ad, which feature two shirtless men, was part of Squirt’s “non-Stop Hookups” bus advertisement campaign. Ten ads were placed near gay clubs and businesses in Miami, including Eros Lounge, Magnum Lounge, The Dugout, Club Azucar and Club Aqua Miami. The ads were later removed after the City of Miami received complaints about their sexual nature.
A spokesperson for the Miami Police Department was unable to confirm by posting time whether the individual allegedly responsible for the vandalism has been identified, arrested or charged. “We’re trying to get confirmation about this from the police captain.”
Attila Szatmari, digital business director of Pink Triangle Press (PTP), which owns and operates Squirt and publishes Daily Xtra, says the video shows homophobia is alive and well.
“It’s kind of interesting for us to see the full picture of who did it and why,” he says. “The only thing we knew was that somebody smashed our ads and then after that the City of Miami pulled our ads. So I think it’s important to see of who did it and why they did it.”
Szatmari says the video shows the incident was real and not staged for publicity as suggested by some internet commenters.
PTP launched a change.org petition to have the Miami ads restored after the city removed them. “Lots of straight-themed ads are as sexy as ours: look at Step Up Revolution, Tom Ford, Michael Kors, Guess, Viktor & Rolf and Calvin Klein ads. If these ads can be on streets across America, we don’t understand why two men embracing cannot.”
In Toronto, the Transit Commission (TTC) removed the current Squirt ads from subway cars on Sept 9, 2015.
“The reason ads were taken down is because they promoted having sexual relations in public,” says TTC spokesperson Danny Nicholson. “The decision was made by our customer information department. If they redid the ad that didn’t promote public sex it would be reconsidered.”
Szatmari says the ads do not promote public sex.
“People need to know Squirt is a platform for men to meet,” he says. “Yes, we have a cruising database but what people do and where they do it is their decision. I was quite disappointed by this because this creative has been around in Toronto around the gay village for months.“
The same ad appeared in the Wellesley subway station in Toronto’s gay village from June to September, 2015, without issue. He says the TTC only started receiving complaints when they moved the ad into the trains.
“Nobody is complaining about the Tommy Hilfiger underwear ads but once you see two guys or three guys then it’s no longer acceptable,” Szatmari says.