QUESTION: Do The Celebrities We Use For Pro-Gay PR Campaigns Matter?

Nick Gruber

No community uses celebrities in the fight for equal rights more than LGBT people, but sometimes those choices can backfire. The new “HIV Equal” campaign has been criticized here on Queerty for using former Calvin Klein boytoy Nick Gruber in the promotional materials, and it brings up the question as to whether or not the faces and images that we put out in support of our public health and civil rights campaigns matter. From the criticism of the A-List cast doing an “It Gets Better” video to the idea that the NoH8 campaign is/was essentially a PR stop for any celebrity who wanted to pander to a gay fan base, it’s a story that repeats itself again and again.  So, the question is Queerty readers:

When it comes to the PR campaigns that are designed to better the gay community, do the celebrities that we use matter?

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  • 2eo

    What an unbelievably moronic question. Even posited hypothetically.

    Yes it does.

    End of discussion.

  • MikeE

    Allowing someone who has recently been in the news for homophobic remarks, for getting into a fight at a gay venue, for repeatedly (obstinately) that “he’s not gay!”, to be in your advertising campaign is definitely going to go over like a lead balloon.

    Particularly when the “celebrity” in question is “celebrated” basically for fu**ing a fashion designer or two and being a rent-boy, and not much else.

    For some odd reason, Queerty and its writers seem to be obsessed with nobodies who fancy themselves “celebrities”. As a matter of fact, I suspect if it weren’t for Queerty, these people wouldn’t be given the time of day, their 15 minutes being more than long gone.

    So yes, in the final analysis, who you use for an advertising campaign – regardless of the worth of the cause – can and will be affected negatively by a poor choice of spokespeople.

  • 2eo

    Using c*nts makes the whole thing look like it is run by c*nts for c*nts.

    It isn’t hard guys, seriously it’s 2013, advertising and PR have existed for quite a while now.

  • scottys

    I guess maybe but I agree with MikeE. Who are you using? What constitutes celebrity in the gay community?

    The majority of those people on the A-list were absolutely terrible. How could you hold them to the same status as some like NPH? Austin claiming it gets better as he prances around being a nasty little bitch and bully to other gay people? That show was nothing more than extension of some gay high school drama. Nick Gruber (is that his name?) some little piece of ass who latched onto an emotionally bankrupt old man with money and them parlayed that into a career? Half the time I look at these people and think Who the hell are you?

    Maybe I’m getting old…but I don’t get the whole “reality star” thing. After seeing some of these shows taped in front of me, meeting the people involved, and having interactions with them outside the sow I can honestly say there is very little “reality” about it.

    The LGBT community (especially the men) have always had some weird f-ed up view of what makes someone popular…porn stars, drag queens and Hollywood posers. I guess if that is where you want to get your advice from then so be it…but mom has always said that when you take advice from someone..consider the source.

  • Caleb in SC

    @2eo: I agree. Nick Gruber was a strategic miscalculation. He’s a high priced rent boy, who is virulently homophobic. I’ve said it before: The paid help should slink quietly into the background once their stint is over.

  • RomanHans

    Well, Queerty, it looks like everybody agrees. So are you actually going to do something or are you going to ignore the opinions you asked for?

    Meanwhile, this “HIV EQUAL” campaign is nonsensical, and not just for hiring a hetero rentboy as a spokesperson. We all have HIV statuses so we’re all equal? We all have political persuasions, too, but I don’t recommend hanging out with a Republican.

  • andy_d

    @2eo: I agree.

    @scottys: You’re not getting old. I feel the same as you do regarding the “A” gays. Even the ones who do not have “celebrity” are, IMO, a group of immature, shallow egoists who care nothing for anyone but themselves.

    Sad case in point, there is a gay friendly area in the county of West Virginia in which I live which has a large weekend gay community from Washington, DC. Every time I have interacted with one of these “A” gays who has a property there, I feel soiled. They are the epitome of “my s*** don’t stink.” For all whose who take umbrage to this comment, YOUR S*** DOES STINK! Often it stinks WORSE. Life is about more than you and your like-minded and small minded “friends.”

  • DarkZephyr

    @scottys: Why lump drag queens in with porn stars and hollywood posers? There are some AMAZING people who are drag queens.

  • ncman

    Of course it matters. All you have to see to realize that is that after the negative comments appeared here about Gruber being party of the “HIV Equal” campaign, neither his name nor his photo appeared in the posting that went up over at HuffPo.

  • Sukhrajah

    Ok, let’s put something into perspective here;

    1). The “HIV EQUAL” campaign is designed for, but not meant to solely cater to, the LGBTQ community. While I applaud them from taking “gay role models, heroes and spokespersons”, the plight of HIV/AIDS takes a tole (yes, very harshly on the LGBTQ population) but on others as well. Despite Mr. Gruber’s orientation, he is likely a great candidate to discuss the matter – as he will likely need it regardless of the orientation that he ultimately acquiesces to. For the very lest, he was a rent-boy, for the very most – a near-celebrity.

    2). Choosing him, if you believe this spin, was due to his ‘perceived’ homosexuality – but he has denied (violently, and loudly) that he is not a member of the community. We (as members of the community) should have shut him down much sooner. We should have stopped reporting, following and subscribing to him – why, because though a real and visceral part of our community (I have met many that fill the “Nick Gruber” role as I have been a member of the community), we should have chose to either ignore or outright hashed it out with him. We ultimately left things ‘unresolved’ regarding him as a person, and we should have made him a ‘non-starter’, so that such a ‘mistake’ could not be have been made by a publicist or press agent.

    3). What if having him on was meant for the publicity? This program, if believed to be as stated/implied by this article, would be pulling for the time, money and awareness that other campaigns within the LGBT community at the moment. Marriage Equality, Other Health Care Issues, It Gets Better, Immigration and the LGBT community, LGBT inequality across the nation, ENDA, Transgender rights; all of these fights are occurring at this moment, and while all are mutually independent – we are human. This might be a ploy to have a blog, such as queerty.com, to cover the issue – free publicity.

    On a related topic – is there a Gay Superman? Does the LGBT movement need a leader, someone that exemplifies most of the things that we aspire to, and one that can unite our voices and vision? Have we ever come close to that? Or, would we not ever need one? Maybe we need to define a gay hero to the world in order to keep the rift-rafts out…

  • DarkZephyr

    I notice that there is no mention about how half the controversy that erupted was because Gruber was headlining the article as a “star” which was Queerty’s choice and not the people behind the campaign.

  • sportsguy1983

    This campaign is headed by fame seeking whores that use other fame seeking whores.

  • Dixie Rect

    Short answer: yes. If I were in this campaign, and then saw Nick Gruber was too, I’d be on the phone with my lawyer, getting my image out of it. The other alleged ‘celebs’ here should be outraged.

    By the way, this entire campaign is to further the C, D and F list ‘celebrities’ brand. Their HIV message, which is rather odd, is secondary.

  • Dxley

    I swear these people bring up this Rent Boy every week just so they piss us off.
    Who, in their right mind, would feature a hustler for such campaigns?

  • TheMarc

    Who represents your message reflects strongly on any organization. It’s certainly why many athletes, actors, etc. have often lost endorsement deals, their jobs and their respect in the public sphere after saying or doing something that would reflect poorly on those affiliated with them. This site has pointed out many such incidents and their inevitable fallout. So this is a pretty silly question.

    Any defense of HIV Equal in their selection of Nick Gruber ignores a few obvious things. First, the campaign predominantly features gay men. Nick is not gay by his own rather virulent admission. Secondly, to attempt to justify his inclusion by stating that HIV effects everyone ignores that fact that there are MANY straight allies who would most likely have gladly participated in this campaign. Nick Gruber is not the only straight guy out there, folks. And of course, finally, not only is Nick not the only straight guy out there; but there are many straight guys who do not have the rather negative press associated with them that Nick does; specifically, his homophobic remarks. It’s like getting Michelle Malkin to appear in ads for the United Negro College Fund.

  • 2eo

    @Dxley: It’s not to piss us off. Gaycities receive money from the PR company Gruber is part of and they pay for a certain amount of column space.

  • mpwaite

    WHAT IS YOUR OBSESSION WITH THAT FLAKE: NICK GRUBER?? I swear, every time you mention “celebrity” (REALLY???!!) YOU SHOW HIS STUPID PICTURE… He is NOT a celebrity; he’s a total waste of oxygen.

  • Stache1

    @2eo: At least that makes some sense because I was just wondering why not just scrub him off entirely since he’s become a major stumbling block to their message. A message which I still think is great. Instead it’s just a middle finger to everyone.

  • Stache1

    @mpwaite: A Queerty Celebrity:)

  • Stefano

    What a waste of time. The more i read Queerty, the more iget bored. Get i life guys !

  • Bozen

    Would like t if the people they used for “Pro Equality” campaigns weren’t all pornstars or strippers or Dan Savage.

    Would be nice to see normal, hard-working people as models for what you can achieve.

  • Bozen

    Oh, or drag queens.

  • sportsguy1983

    I wonder how many of the guys behind this campaign have or are currently paying to bang Nick Gruber.

  • casey

    As my grandmother was fond of saying, “You are judged by the company you keep.

  • QuintoLover

    I don’t have a problem with Nick Gruber trying to desperately cling to his last ounce of notoriety by doing some PR campaigns but the fact that this slut who whores himself out to rich men to survive is in an HIV campaign just disgusts me. He’s the LAST person who should be informing others to stay safe.

  • ChicagoMark773

    Guess the def of celebrity matters. Gruber is no celebrity in my eyes.

  • sirald66

    If Nick had done an insightful interview with the gay community apologizing for his hateful comments, then the action of participating in the campaign would have had legitimacy.

    Whatever Nick’s past, he can always turn down a better path when he wants to. Its unclear if he has done that yet.

  • Teleny

    What kind of message does it send to young lbgtq people by continuously promoting a homophobic hustler as a gay celebrity. I would much rather see a str8 ally or an out & proud community member any day. I don’t find any homophobe attractive or a role model. Please make it go away…

  • Ryan26pdx

    The initial integrity of a multimedia campaign certainly hinges on how it decides to present itself. I wonder if the creators behind this campaign might present HIV in an larger context by attempting to glamorize an HIV positive mother holding her tragically fated child? The most important imperatives behind HIV prevention and treatment campaigns is to influence the uninfected to practice safe sex and test themselves regularly. You know what has kept a condom on my dick and my partners’ since I’ve been sexually active? Seeing honest representations of what my carelessness may lead to. Of the images I’ve found on the HIV equal website, I’m not sure the people who participated would be able to recognize themselves. Younger people in particular don’t need to be fed fantasy images regarding a very real disease that continues to mutate, they deserve honesty.

  • alterego1980

    @DarkZephyr: THANK YOU!! If anyone reads the explanation by the executives, you will realize that Queerty hijacked the good intent of the article by making it about Gruber instead of the great work done by the organization.
    This is where I get upset. Queerty says they have no agenda, except that gay one (paraphrasing). But they obviously do have an agenda. And as usual, it’s to create controversy and make money, i.e., similarly to TMZ. They in turn did a huge disservice to HIV Equal. When it comes down to it, Queerty chose to promote false controversy over educating people about HIV health and getting tested. This is morally corrupt!

  • Doughosier

    I know he’s a douche but I never get tired of looking at him. It’s only on this site I see him however.

  • ncman

    @alterego1980: The executives of this organization GAVE Queerty the opportunity to hijack their message by including Gruber’s photo in the packet of materials they provided to Queerty. It was the organization’s bad decision and lack of foresight that lead to this.

  • Cam

    You can’t blame Queerty for the Gruber issue.

    The execs of the campaign gave his photo to Queerty, and then when the comments started coming in they didn’t even pretend to understand why it might be upsetting. They doubled down on defending their choice proving that they care FAR less about any HIV issues, then they do about catering to a has-been fashion Icon’s PR team paying them to promote his anti-gay hustler boytoy.

    True, Queerty promoted his name in the headline, but they only worked with what they were given.

  • DarkZephyr

    @Cam: Cam, I normally agree with you about things but I kind of have to respectfully disagree with you here, at least in part. Seriously, I wouldn’t even know much about Gruber or care much about the scuz ball at all if not for Queerty. They have bent over backwards to bring this loser over half the “fame” that he has, it seems to me. He would be much more of a non-issue if not for Queerty, in my humble opinion. Sometimes I feel like Queerty has been a bigger source of Gruber’s notoriety than sleeping with Calvin Klein was.

  • Stache1

    @Ryan26pdx: Sweety jump down off your soapbox and take yourself down to the shame and fear campagne. This is just another message is all.

  • Stache1

    @Ryan26pdx: Oh and would it hurt for you to smile a bit for the camera.. ???

  • Stache1

    @DarkZephyr: Really? I just did a simple google search and pages come up about him. It’s not just Queerty. You don’t have to read too far to get to the good stuff too.

  • Cam


    I get what you are saying. I’m not saying that Queerty isn’t pushing the guy, I’m just saying that Queerty only worked with what they were given. If they hadn’t accepted the guy into the campaign Queerty couldn’t push the guy.

  • DarkZephyr

    @Stache1: All I can say is that, as I said before, I would barely know about Gruber if not for Queerty. I think of the countless articles I have read or seen about him, a grand total of ONE came from another source which was the Huffington Post, I believe. I don’t doubt that he is mentioned elsewhere, but is he mentioned elsewhere with THIS kind of frequency?

    @Cam: That I can agree with. If they had not slipped the photo of Gruber into the photos they sent to Queerty, Queerty wouldn’t have pounced. And most of us KNOW that if you send a stack of pictures to Queerty and Nick Gruber is among them, they WILL pounce on it, and with great gusto too. Do you think that the guys behind the campaign knew this though? Personally, as someone who has had a friend die of AIDS and watched how she was treated and what she went through, I personally happen to like this campaign.

  • sprocket

    When I grew up in the 80’s, I didn’t have celebs to look up to. There were no role models or out gay celebs I could count on. I didn’t even have out gays in my own life but it would have been nice if there were at least one or two I could point to in magazines and on TV and not think I was completely alone.

    Now gay youth have Chris Colfer, Zachary Quinto, Neil Patrick Harris, Lance Bass, Tegan and Sara etc….

    We could go back to the time when there weren’t any and if he have to insist that the ones we have don’t live up to our lofty high expectations of everything we want or desire, then what’s the use of having role models if they don’t have the courage to speak out despite what many would think of them?

    Really Queerty, I’d rather have the most imperfect role model who stands out proudly than none at all.

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