Commercial Closet’s founding executive director Michael Wilke sees just as much progress as regress this year when it comes to gays and advertising. For every Diet Coke commercial featuring Carson Kressley, there’s a Nabisco “Snack Fairy” spot playing off the stereotype of feminine men. From Calvin Klein beefcake and Abercrombie & Fitch homoerotica to Absolut and Bud Light’s specific catering to the gay community, inroads are being made in sexual orientation-appropriate marketing.
But there’s always a trade off; alcohol ads targeted at the gay community almost explicitly appear in gay media only, while the same companies’ mainstream marketing still makes gay stereotypes a punchline in their advertising. Wilke believes:
“there has been growth in all types of representation: growth in positive [ads], growth in stereotyped, homophobic approaches, and also in equal representations that are inclusive.”
He adds that gay men are faring better than lesbians, bisexuals and the transgendered, with “…greater diversity of representations, although the stereotyped representations continue quite strongly.”