When glossy magazine publisher Conde Nast launched Men’s Vogue in 2005, the running joke was: How are they going to find enough sauve straight guys to put on the cover 12 times a year? After all, there are only so many George Clooneys. But then there were Will Smiths, Roger Federers, and Hugh Jackmans, and they made fine coverboys. That didn’t save the magazine, which is basically dead (okay, it’s still running twice a year). And neither did its refusal to recognize that, hey, gay men might actually read this thing.
But why appeal to them? Well, then-Men’s Vogue publisher William Li opted not to. Photographer Juergen Teller says this Marc Jacobs ad, featuring his friends and real life couple Dick Page and James Gibbs, was refused by the magazine. Says Teller, describing the controversies involving his Jacobs ad campaign shoots:
The Dakota ones caused nothing, and they are pretty hard-core. They are on the border of being too much, even for me. I don’t remember hearing much about it, but if there was any controversy it was very under the radar. Funnily enough the most complaints were about the series with Dick Page and James Gibbs because they are a gay couple. Men’s Vogue even refused to publish it. Dick is a very close friend of mine and I’ve known him for 20 years — he’s been part of the Marc family for 20 years. And I like the idea of having a gay couple in a men’s ad because it makes sense. And I wanted the ads to be like they are — very romantic, tender and sweet. I certainly didn’t want to have anything provocative, not at all. The only other controversy that comes to mind also involved Vogue — the women’s one — over an ad of a clothed Cindy Sherman and me in which I am grabbing her breasts. That caused a stir. Go figure.
But let’s not put all the blame on Men’s Vogue: We can’t recall the last time we saw an obviously gay ad in, say, GQ, which is headed by homo Jim Nelson. Or Details, which is stuffed with homoerotic advertising but not homosexual advertising, and is essentially a magazine for gay men who don’t know what to think about other gay men.
Then again, we’ve stopped reading these magazines, because we discovered something called The Internet. But maybe you folks are still reading rags like Esquire and Details — magazines targeted at the well-off, sophisticated and stylish male, who could as easily be gay as he is straight. If so, you know better than us. So please, flip through those ad pages, and correct us. Are any “straight” men’s style/culture/fashion magazines (read: not V Man) running explicitly gay advertising? Name ’em, and the advertisers, so we can applaud their commercial exploitation of our greatest insecurity: fear of not being accepted by the cool kids.