Sexual Pride Month ad appalls LGBTQ advocates
The shift of this year’s Pride month to transgender advocacy, “family” drag shows and sexualized advertising are dividing some LGBTQ advocates as June draws to a close.
Pride Month’s growing emphasis on the “T” in LGBTQ advocacy came in response to recent laws in states such as Florida and Texas that restrict young people’s access to resources such as school gender identity in public schools and gender transition medical treatments.
“Pride season always brings out the creativity of marketers, with some consternation for queer consumers,” said Bob Witeck, president of LGBTQ marketing firm Witeck Communications. “When the message uses sex in a specific way, it tells me that’s who they think I am.”
Mr Witeck added in a phone call that Pride Month messages should be “as authentic as possible” to avoid giving the impression that events such as drag queen story times and open brunches young children are “sexualized events”.
“It’s not uncommon for sexualization to occur in advertising. What worries me is that it plays into a stereotype that LGBTQ people are more sexualized than everyone else,” he said. “When we are defined as narrowly sexual people, we lose our complete identity.”
The recent flurry of events reflects a difficult turn this year for Pride Month – the annual celebration of gay rights in June – away from more conventional ads featuring same-sex couples.
The Walt Disney Co. continued to promote transgender advocacy this month amid an ongoing feud with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican who signed a ban on gender identity discussions in K-3 public schools in March.
Mr. DeSantis and Republican lawmakers in Texas have also flirted with the idea of making it illegal for parents to take their children to “family” drag queen shows hosted by various companies, such as Taco Bell and local gay nightclubs. .
As part of a new Pride Month campaign this year, Uber-owned Postmates released a sexualized ad campaign with gay sex references to the “trim” and “bottom” to promote a new ” friendly menu” in Los Angeles and New York.
Burger King’s new “Pride Whopper” for customers in Austria, which featured either “two equal top buns” or bottom buns, led its advertising company to apologize this month following a viral reaction from the LGBTQ community on Twitter.
In recent years, marketing campaigns for Dr Pepper and Cottonelle have also featured “higher” and “lower” credentials.
Some LGBTQ advocates have hailed the increased focus on transgender rights in a year that has seen growing political battles over pronouns for gender-transitioning children in public schools.
Riah Gonzales-King, president of the DC Metro chapter of the Chamber of Commerce for Equality, said events this year have shown the LGBTQ community has ‘raised itself by the bootstraps’ since the Stonewall riots of 1969 inspired the first Pride month.
“I also think it’s important to uplift trans people and remind them that their fate is in their hands,” Ms. Gonzales-King said during a virtual panel in Washington last week.
But Gregory T. Angelo, chairman of the conservative New Tolerance campaign, said much of the programming was seen as “hypocritical” by right-wing gay men like him.
“Companies have collapsed to outdo each other on social media, while doing business with nations that persecute and even execute gay people,” he said. “Surprisingly, rainbow logos were nowhere to be found on the Twitter feeds of global brands in the Middle East and China this month.”
Mr Angelo, former president of the Log Cabin Republicans, added that many companies have looked into LGBTQ events this year to avoid “earning the ire of the left”.
“Corporate celebration of sexual orientations and transgender identities during the month of June is largely performative,” Angelo said. “It has become mandatory for any company that wants to do business in the United States.”