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Noisey.com Isn’t Sure If It Supports LGBTs Or Not. Does That Make Them Anti-Queer?

This weekend sex-positive Vice Magazine, Dell computers, and Intel processors launched Noisey, a website where professional film makers will present their documentary footage of bands before, during, and after live performances around the world. Noisey has a rainbow CD logo and threw their launch party at Austin’s newest gay bar Kiss & Fly—a place where cage dancers grind overhead and lesbians make out in the lower bar. When I drunkenly asked Vice about the rainbow logo and gay bar launch site, he just shrugged and said that Kiss & Fly was a cool space. Then when I asked the Dell spokesperson if their site featured any queer artists, he said that the site has no politics beyond the music. But since Noisey promotes international music (when some countries still outlaw Western music) and supports bands like Das Racist who rap about ghettos, weed, corporatism and harangue the “cracker shitheads” in their audience to go home, the “no politics” stance seems a little disingenuous. But should I have really expected a brand new business to have an articulated stance on gay anything? Does it even matter that they didn’t?

I definitely brought my own agenda to our brief conversation. I’m a gay journalist for fuck’s sake; what the hell else are we supposed to talk about? And though a little less vodka and a little more tact might have opened up the Vice and Dell representatives to reflect a little more on the connection between their work and queer music lovers worldwide, does our community really need to know where every business stands on queers before deciding whether to support them or not?

Sometimes it seems like businesses can’t win either way: if a business claims to be pro-queer, they get criticized for “pinkwashing” (that is, claiming pro-gay identity merely to get pink dollars). If they don’t issue make a pro-queer press release right off the bat, then they’re immediately bigots. Pro-gay business can potentially isolate themselves from straight consumers who assume they only cater to a queer clientele. It can also piss off queers who think “Oh yeah, like I’m gonna go to your crappy store just because you’re gay.” Take Sony’s all-queer label Music With A Twist. It came out in January of 2006 and where is it now? Dead. That’s what you get when you only cater to the listening tastes of one in ten people.

Noam Chomsky was right when he said you can’t be neutral on a moving train, but lots of American businesses have issued no statement whatsoever about their queers sentiments and many of them don’t financially compensate their partnered queer employees to make up for the buttraping we get at the hands of DOMA and the IRS. Does this make those businesses anti-queer too? What’s the alternative? Growing your own garden, spinning your own fabric, and generating your own electricity until you have gay friendly report cards for every single retailer, restaurant, and public utility in your town? Bollocks.

Since the public opinion and the almighty dollar weigh so heavily in the battle for equality, we need businesses that take stands out of the box. All sorts of political groups ask corporations to take stances on social issues. Environmentalists regularly take Nike to task for its sweatshops and the company donates to girls schools to court lady shoppers. So while it may seem unfair to label the local sandwich shop as queerphobic just because it doesn’t advertise with posters of homos and transgender people eating their six-inch subs, it’s definitely fair to say that in this day and age, any business that makes no effort to at least acknowledge and accommodate their potentially queer clientele simply isn’t doing enough… for human rights or their own business.

NOTE: At the time of publication I reached out to Vice Magazine, Dell, and Intel for additional comment but only Vice Magazine had agreed to discuss these issues later this week. When we do, I will publish a follow-up article.

By:           Daniel Villarreal
On:           Mar 22, 2011
Tagged: , , , , ,

  • 13 Comments
    • The sane Francis
      The sane Francis

      I’ll wait before making a judgment on this. The way I saw it, the no politics stance was more of a “we don’t support bands solely because of their politics”, instead of not supporting bands who are political.

      As for knowing a businesses attitude towards our community, it’s very important because we want to know what’s what, and who is working for our best interests as a community, and who isn’t. I can understand neutrality, but we do deserve recognition as people, like anyone else. If a business shows they have an agenda not within our interests we shouldn’t support them.

      Mar 22, 2011 at 3:21 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • alan llad
      alan llad

      This article is sort of pointless. How else were they meant to respond to that question? Vice has done a lot of really great gay content over the years, I’m gonna judge them on that. Not a “no comment” from a PR person at a party.

      Mar 22, 2011 at 6:07 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Truthful
      Truthful

      This article further supports that the staff of Queerty are nothing but a bunch of tired, old queens. Stop instigating by bad-mouthing our allies, just because you had a DRUNKEN conversation with one of Vice’s many employees.

      Mar 22, 2011 at 7:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • justiceontherocks
      justiceontherocks

      “Environmentalists” regularly take Nike to task over sweatshops??? Environmentalists??? I wonder if the writer knows what an environmentalist or a sweatshop is.

      Mar 22, 2011 at 8:29 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • merkin
      merkin

      im sorry–I have no idea what the writer of this post is trying to say. Pretty sure he doesn’t either. Maybe drunk blogging at SXWS isn’t such a good idea, huh?

      Mar 22, 2011 at 11:48 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Todd
      Todd

      I don’t see the point of this post at all –but I did go to Noisey.com and watched a couple of videos which were really quite entertaining. I highly recommend the intro video on the Vaccines — good rock ‘n’ roll plus a number of drunk goofy cute Irish and Scottish boys praising / imitating the band. Love those accents. More entertaining than anything on this site.

      Mar 23, 2011 at 12:45 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Todd
      Todd

      Actually, if you scroll to the right a bit on the main page, you’ll come across a band called Rent Boys from the UK. They look like punk drag queens. The music is kinda ug but the show looks fantastic. Definitely queer, although I’m not sure they’re gay. Warning — several stuffed animals die in the first video.

      BTW — the site showcases new bands from around the world by posting 4 or 5 videos for each. These are not music videos, but rather film of a live performance in a small venue, mixed with interviews with the band, fans who attend the show and other stuff. Quality is high. Very nicely done.

      Mar 23, 2011 at 1:15 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Daniel
      Daniel

      @merkin: The point is this. At what point should we start caring/expecting a company to come out as pro or anti-gay? At what point do their politics matter? This is especially important considering Chik-Fil-A, Target, and other retailers who contributed to Prop 8. Are we only gonna care about their positions once they’ve already donated against us or do we have an imperative to start finding out every businesses stance on gay issues at the point of its creation?

      Mar 23, 2011 at 3:23 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Bob Witeck
      Bob Witeck

      I’m guessing I am not Noisey’s target audience, however, the questions raised here do matter because — for better or worse — companies and marketers have LGBT followers and detractors, as they do with all audiences and customers.

      What many gay customers today believe are turn-ons have evolved for understandable reasons. Younger generations especially consider themselves post-label for good reasons, and do not tend to embrace singular or narrow descriptions and identities, including intimate details about their sexuality or attractions.

      That said, many do not like companies attempting to exploit or pander their gay-friendliness in ways that are not authentic, or simply seem “gimmicky” and insincere. Customers get it when it’s real and when it’s feigned or forced.

      In addition, gay consumers tend to use many considerations to weigh whether a product, service or company fits them, and not merely their sexual orientation. They are asking what most of us ask of companies: do you respect me, speak to me and understand what I need or want? Do you do so unconditionally and without prejudging my tastes and interests as “gay” or anything else?

      In short, more LGBT consumers simply want to say, “do I fit unexceptionally in all you do, and in the welcome you give everyone? I don’t ask for anything more than to be included, visible, invited and valued. If not, I’m moving on. Fast.”

      Mar 23, 2011 at 10:25 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Patrick
      Patrick

      I really don’t think that businesses need to make an “effort to at least acknowledge and accommodate their potentially queer clientele.” This is like saying that a restaurant MUST have at least one item on the menu that doesn’t contain dairy so that people who are allergic to dairy have something to eat. As long as they are neutral or aren’t opposed to gays, I think they are doing just fine.

      Mar 23, 2011 at 4:59 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Daniel M
      Daniel M

      I don’t believe that any company should be required to take a stance on gay issues. That being said, I do believe that it is perfectly acceptable to protest a company that donates to a PAC or politician that supports anti-gay agendas.

      Mar 23, 2011 at 10:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Daniel M
      Daniel M

      @Bob Witeck: Bob, what was the purpose of your comment? I think that the idea of being treated with respect is universal and why I am not sure why you had to say something so obvious and not really adding anything of value to the discussion.

      Mar 23, 2011 at 10:47 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Daniel M
      Daniel M

      @Daniel: I don’t know how many companies are going to give you a clear answer to their stance on gay issues, so before you start sending out the “Do you as a company support gay issues” questionnaire maybe you should consider making a difference in what you do instead of policing what companies support. The fact is most companies support their favorite cause, more money.

      Mar 23, 2011 at 10:56 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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