Sexualized Pride Month Ad Baffles LGBT Lawyers


This year’s Pride Month’s shift to transgender advocacy, “family-friendly” drag shows, and sexualized advertising is dividing some LGBT advocates as June draws to a close.

The growing Pride Month emphasis on the “T” in LGBT advocacy is in response to recent laws in states such as Florida and Texas that restrict youth access to transgender resources, such as gender identity classes in public schools and sex reassignment medical treatments.

“Pride season always brings out creativity from marketers, with some dismay for gay consumers,” said Bob Witeck, president of the LGBT marketing firm Witeck Communications. “If the message uses sex in a specific way, it tells me I think I am.”

Mr. Witeck added in a phone call that Pride Month messages should be “as authentic as possible” to avoid creating the impression that events such as drag queen story hours and brunches open to small children are “sexualized events”. to be.

“It’s not uncommon for sexualization to come about in advertisements. What worries me is that it plays on a stereotype that LGBTQ people are more sexualized than everyone else,” he said. “If we are defined as scary sexual people, we lose our entire identity.”

The recent spate of events reflects a hard pivot this year for Pride Month — the annual celebration of gay rights in June — away from more conventional, rainbow-infused ads featuring same-sex couples.

The Walt Disney Co. continued this month to promote transgender advocacy as part of an ongoing feud with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican who signed a ban on gender identity discussions in K-3 public schools in late March.

DeSantis and Republican lawmakers in Texas have also flirted with the idea of ​​making it illegal for parents to take children to “family-friendly” drag queens performances that companies ranging from Taco Bell to local gay nightclubs have hosted.

As part of a new Pride Month campaign this year, Uber-owned Postmates has released a sexualized advertising campaign that references gay sex to “topping” and “bottoming” to a new “bottom-friendly menu” in Los Angeles. and promote New York.

Burger King’s new “Pride Whopper” for customers in Austria, featuring either “two equal” top buns or bottom buns, prompted the ad agency to apologize this month after a viral response from the LGBT community on Twitter.

In recent years, marketing campaigns for Dr. Pepper and Cottonelle also used “top” and “bottom” references.

Some LGBT advocates praised the increased focus on transgender rights in a year when the political battle over the use of transgender pronouns for gender transition children in public schools has intensified.

Riah Gonzales-King, president of the DC Metro Chapter of the Equality Chamber of Commerce, said this year’s events have shown that the LGBTQ community has “pushed itself” since the Stonewall riots in 1969 that marked the first Pride Month inspired.

“I also think it’s important to uplift transgender people and remind them that their fate is in their hands,” Ms Gonzales-King said during a virtual panel in Washington on Wednesday.

But Gregory T. Angelo, president of the conservative New Tolerance Campaign, said much of the programming came across as “hypocritical” to right-wing gay men like him.

“Companies fell over each other to ‘overwhelm’ each other on social media, while at the same time happily doing business with countries that persecute and even execute gay people,” he said. “Rainbow logos were curiously nowhere to be found this month on Twitter feeds of global brands in the Middle East and China.”

Mr. Angelo, a former president of the Log Cabin Republicans, added that many companies this year leaned on sexualized and gender-bending events to avoid earning “the wrath of the left.”

“Big Business’s celebration of sexual orientations and transgender identities in the month of June is largely performative,” said Mr. Angelo. “It has become a requirement of any company that wants to do business in the United States.”