Hicks, Gary R. (2003) “Media at the Margins: Homoerotic Appeals to the Gay and Lesbian Community” in Sex in Advertising


Media is key to shaping sexuality in western society.  Media shapes both gay self-perception and society’s perception of gay people.  There was very little representation of gays in the media before 1960 and when it began to appear it was mainly stereotypical and focused on cross-dressing or prostitution.  The 70s and 80s saw a few gay characters on TV shows but they were usually in roles that provided comic relief.

Bud Light, Coors Light and Absolut Vodka began gay-targeted advertising in the 1990s.  Faced protest and boycott from right wing Christians.  Many ads in gay publications contain overt sexual references, phallic imagery and sexualized bodies to grab reader attention. Ads targeted at lesbians feature fully-clothed, attractive women with an emphasis on intimacy and romance instead of raw sexuality.

The mainstream media has been critiqued for portraying gays with an emphasis on sex but gay publications seem to do the same.

Are advertisers buying in to the “gay agenda” or are they simply selling out to increase profits?  Are they thinking progressively or simply tapping in to a lucrative market?

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