Groupon Gets Hate Mail Over Charitable Safe-Sex Campaign For Boston LGBT Youth

Former Queerty contributor Joseph Sanchez writes in to tell us about the backlash to a Groupon charity deal arranged by the Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth (BAGLY). Says Sanchez:

For the past few days, BAGLY (Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth) has been running a Groupon campaign in order to provide attendees of their LGBTQ youth prom with free, anonymous health screening (including a rapid HIV/AIDS test) and a safe-sex packet, all for only $12. The latter contains three condoms (including one internal condom), lubrication, and cards that provide information about health topics such as intimate partner violence and smoking cessation.

Unfortunately, some Groupon users have objected to this charitable mission, and they’ve taken to sending hate mail in response to the campaign. I’ve compiled some responses, varying in different degrees of craziness and close-minded blathering.

We’re thinking the charity deal went out to more than just the fairly tolerant Boston area, because some of the responses are downright Podunk (and some reference the fact that they’re confused why they received the offer because they don’t live in Boston).

Without further adieu ado, the hate mail.

1. “If Karma was involved, [Groupon] would be reincarnated as a bacteria in a steaming pile of crap.”

2. “As an advertiser, you become morally liable for the ads you run, and the people you lead astray or confirm in their sin.”

3. “LGBT proms are not cute or fun to many that currently use your services.”

See seven more pieces of this Groupon-backlash hate mail over at Joseph Sanchez’s Tumblr.

UPDATE: Here’s a statement from BAGLY’s director of development and marketing, Kurtlan Massarky:

First, I want to thank everyone who HAS supported BAGLY’s campaign to provide Rapid HIV tests and risk reduction packets to young people attending our LGBT Youth Prom. For a grassroots organization, even one with the longevity of BAGLY, we’ve had a wonderful response from many folks. I can’t say that these types of responses are completely surprising, but what signals a new and dangerous critique is the people who would prefer LGBT youth to remain in the dark about their HIV status and prevention methods.

Groupon is walking a fine line, and we can appreciate that.  So far they’ve done very well at honoring their contractual agreement with BAGLY, but we have seen subtle changes. Initially the campaign was supposed to be included in every market’s (except Chicago’s) daily e-mail, but we’ve been told that it would only run 3 out of the 7 days. Groupon has a great history of working with the LGBT community, and I expect they understand the value of that commitment.

Personally, I’m not surprised that Groupon has received these complaints.  My disappointment is increased in conjunction with the consistent denial of resources for LGBT youth whenever sex, sexual health, or substance use, comes in to the conversation. It’s almost as if people are saying that it’s okay that young people identify as part of the LGBT community, as long as they are effectively sexually and culturally sterilized. We know that’s not how young people operate, and to block access to health education and risk reduction to some of THE most marginalized people in our communities, is sending a clear message that these young people are not valued and that their health deserves to be compromised.