Queer stereotypes sell products

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Gay people prominent in pop culture prove useful capitalist tools. It'd be easy to bitch about this, I slammed Boy Meets Boy and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy so quickly that I was one of Google's top links for each for months.

Still, the trend is accelerating as the national debate over gay marriage turns contentious and polarizing, potentially exposing advertisers to complaints that by hiring gay and lesbian endorsers, they are themselves endorsing what the critics describe as the homosexual agenda. ...

But in a society where the glowing idiot box has become the majority's primary source of consensual reality nothing makes you seem less weird and scary than appearing nightly encouraging the plain folks to go spend their cash.

The trend confronts another challenge, from gay men and lesbians who worry that the way their better-known counterparts are presented in ads may reinforce stereotypes of homosexuals as flighty fashionistas obsessed with style and surfaces.

I never watched Queer Eye. But I started watching Will and Grace to look at Jack (hard to believe since the show got too tedious for me to watch) and nothing cheers me more on Queer as folk than the site of nelly Emmett. But as much as I lust after and feel tender about those swishy stereotypes I can't help but resent it when they are presented to the heterosexual majority as typical gay men.

"It's kind of a two-edged sword," said Howard Buford, chief executive at Prime Access in New York, an agency specializing in multicultural campaigns. He likened some advertising imagery of gay men and lesbians to the stereotypes in mainstream campaigns of African-Americans as experts in cooking, housekeeping, music and sports.

Er, I know about the sports stereotype but I missed housekeeping and cooking. But seeing happy black men and women acting just like 'you and me' has done much to diminish the racism that was common when I was a kid.

"The gay identity is now at a level in the popular culture that it can be accessed for this role in ads aimed at the general market, especially showing gays as trend-setters and arbiters of taste," Mr. Buford said. "It runs the risk of alienating the gay community, which has a much more sophisticated read on this, but that always has been the case when something crosses over into the mainstream. It's a journey."

If a queer guy advising the straight folks on buying furniture and gifts makes them less homophobic it is a tolerable trade. Their education can move up to a more advanced level after their fear and hatred have abated.

More Gay Celebrities in Ads

Prior: Queer black eye, boy defeats boy, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (Over 100 comments), Boy Meets Boy

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Most of my life I’ve held myself as aloof as possible from political wrangling. Few things bring out the least interesting in people. But the Republicans icy ploy of using American Christian fundamentalists’ aversion to same-sex marriage ma... [Read More]

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