Homo Promo

// 12 November 2008

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The gay community is often accused by right-wing groups of trying to push their ‘homosexuality agenda’. Rather than fighting the accusation, Gay Times magazine decided to roll with it, and asked some creative agencies to design some homosexuality advertising campaigns.

It’s a great idea, but the results are disappointing, to say the least – of the six pitches, three rely heavily on negative stereotypes of women to put the point across.

homo_promo2.jpgThe worst offender, created by The King’s Arms Creative, Manchester, shows unflattering pictures of women already villified by the press, including Heather Mills, Cherie Blair, Amy Winehouse and Jodie Marsh, with the message ‘Go Gay’.

My heart sinks. Why is it necessary to push one group of people down to push another up? (Yes, PETA, I’m looking at you.) And not only is it offensive, it’s lazy. The fact that so many creative agencies came up with broadly similar ideas doesn’t say much for their creativity….

See all the Homo Promo visuals here.

Comments From You

Lindsey // Posted 12 November 2008 at 1:03 pm

wow, they really did put all of 5 minutes thought into those. The only thing that impressed me was the one line:

Straight isn’t normal, it’s just common.

Lawtears // Posted 12 November 2008 at 1:19 pm

I’ve looked at the images and they are not that bad. Apart from the one you showed, none of them seem to “push people down.”

The one shown with Amy Whitehouse et al, I suspect, was one made deliberately for the hetro males. There’s nothing like throwing pics of women that most women also seem to hate to make a point. A similar ad might be A Hitler, P Pot, S Hussein, K Jong II (all dictorial men) with “Go Buddist” written above it. Wouldn’t that be sexist? They’re all men!

And the “anything she can do…” is absolutely brilliant for putting on a scrolling medium, like a web page.


Josie // Posted 12 November 2008 at 1:21 pm

I am utterly horrified, this is the most misogynistic load of rubbish I’ve read for a long time. I’m all in favour of taking the shame and secrecy and “otherness” out of being gay, but why at the expense of women (some of whom are also gay, but no mention of that here…). Why the references to not having to fork out for diamonds and fancy meals if you date a guy? I counted three references to not having your childfree lifestyle threatened if your partner is male – that good old woman as psychotic hard-wired breeder stereotype again! Really revolting – and any group of people who are fighting against discrimination should have more sense than to get involved in discrimination and stereotyping themselves

Sarah // Posted 12 November 2008 at 1:39 pm

That’s just bizarre. Since when did being gay imply not dating women? Or do lesbians not exist?

Soirore // Posted 12 November 2008 at 1:52 pm

I actually found the last ad “anything she can do” the most offensive as it reduces female bodies to being mere pleasure devices for penises to use and is belittling female sex organs.

What I don’t understand is why these agencies haven’t tried to challenge stereotypes about gay men. Instead suggesting that you’re gay because you hate women or that it is only about sex (that it doesn’t matter where you put your cock as long as it feels good). This has upset me because it is as harmful to gay men as it is to women.

JenniferRuth // Posted 12 November 2008 at 2:08 pm

I am so disappointed in The King’s Arms…they usually do good work. That idea wasn’t even worth being mocked up – it should have been laughed off the table as soon as it was mentioned.

Second of all – do gay women not count?

Thirdly – aren’t those sort of stereotypes what we are meant to be fighting *against*?


Qubit // Posted 12 November 2008 at 2:40 pm

I have never heard of a stereotype of gay men hating women just that of lesbians hating men. I might be wrong but the stereotype of a gay man that I am familiar with is someone with many female friends who likes the company of women. I don’t think Gay Times can be blamed for the adverts unless they gave the agency a lot of guidelines.

It is interesting though that the prominent idea for promoting male homosexuality is showing how rubbish women are. I would imagine if an add campaign could change your sexuality then they would be effective. I think it is a message that would appeal to a large proportion of heterosexual guys. Particularly those who are you stereotypical lads which appears to be the target audience of a large proportion of adverts.

Anne Onne // Posted 12 November 2008 at 4:28 pm

I’m surprised. I would have expected (OK, hoped for) some wry humour about how ridiculous it is that teh Gheys are supposedly out to get you, and about how normal being gay is. Out of all of them, the ‘fancy a beer’ one is the only one that comes close to that.

The sailor one is a bit cliche, so I neither felt particularly amused nor repelled by it, since I guess some people like that kind of humour.

The pink writing on white? I thought it was going to be good. It started off good, about how heterosexuality is common, not ‘normal’. Cool, reduce othering of LGBTQ people. Then, we get a poor excuse to bash women: they want a reason for sex, they require men take responsibility, they just don’t understand men, they don’t age well, they aren’t sexy if hairy, they use up all your income. Seriously? Fuck you. Women have a ton of shit to deal with from the patriarchy, and rather than supporting them too, let’s make fun of the double standard! Ho ho, there’s nothing funnier than the wage gap, being expected to be a housewife, cater to all your man’s needs, and look good at all times!

And also, lesbians exist. What about people who are bisexual? Pansexual? Transgender? Intersex? That’s throwing a LOT of people under the bridge to appeal to men.

I don’t mind the overpopulation bit, but not all heterosexual men or women want kids.

Then we get the rainbow coloured one. I don’t personally like the cliche of camp = gay and gay = camp, because I’d like to see a world in which men can express themselves as they wish, without people ticking the ‘he must be gay’ box in their heads. And again with the women bashing. Because of course, women not being cheerful all month round (and apparently being obsessed with diamonds) makes us totally worthless.

The vagina one…I don’t even know what to say. Also a bit pointless, since it’s not like heterosexual men haven’t discovered oral sex, and I don’t see any sign that men or women are better at fellatio. It’s the reduction of a relationship or sexuality to sex acts, when to people it’s so much more that is distasteful. That and using vaginas to sell men. Is there ANYTHING we won’t use women’s bodies (or things closely resembling them) to sell?

I couldn’t get the famous women one. At first I thought it was telling them to go gay to improve their rep, but it seems to be about telling men to go gay because all these women are supposedly awful. Because women not behaving a la patriarchy are enough to turn men gay. Once again, homophobia and misogyny combined, but I’m rather surprised this is suposed to be pro- gay rights.

Erm, people shooting yourselves in the foot. I don’t think vilifying women, reducing them to a vagina or ignoring lesbians is pro-gay rights. It’s just patriarchy with a different mask on.

I have mixed feelings because I would have guessed from the get go that it was supposed to be ‘humourous’ and an invitation to try and ‘make people gay’ like the conservatives are terrified of. I can see that these are maybe meant to be satire. But they’re just not bad enough to pass as satire. I’m not sure whether they’re meant to be crazy (to prove gays aren’t out there to steal you away) or meant to be a way of normalising gay men.

If the former, they’d be better, but it’s not so well done as to be persuasive satire. It doesn’t go far enough for us to KNOW it’s a joke.

If the latter: well, bashing women to make gay men fit in with the mainstream is rather immature, and not something I’d expect of a progressive cause.

Sabre // Posted 12 November 2008 at 4:53 pm

I was also going to comment on why none of the ads targetted gay women, but then went to the Gay Times website and realised it was a magazine mainly for men. So there’s a reason. However if they had also thought of ads for women too, I think they would have come up with much better material for both types of ad.

I get that it’s meant to be satire but it’s just not clever enough. And the ‘vagina’ one was just plain gross.

Would be interesting to know what gay men think of the campaign and if they object to the demeaming of women and gay stereotyping.

Betsy // Posted 12 November 2008 at 5:32 pm

Well, given the the brief given was clearly meant to be a joke, I think most of the designers have gone for poking fun at stereotypes, the kind of stereotypes that people who think there’s a gay conspiracy are likely to have. Some have been done well and some have been done badly.

And given that Gay Times is a men’s magazine is it really that surprising that they’ve focussed on men’s homosexuality rather than women’s?

Grace // Posted 12 November 2008 at 9:55 pm

It’s not that surprising that they focus on male homosexuality, although one of the adverts does talk about the gay ‘community’, and does that not include homosexual women? Many of the adverts weren’t just ignoring the interests of women they were flat out offensive towards women and supported what the patriarchy expects of women i.e. to have babies, to be obsessed with diamonds and spending their partner’s hard earned cash, and having meaningful relationships. Not to mention the image of women as sex-holes.

The ‘anything women can do’ one was just NOT funny. As Anne Onne said, it’s not like heterosexual men haven’t discussed oral sex – many seem to be rather obsessed with it and a lot of men I know incorporate it into a large majority of their jokes, so it is in the minds in some form whether it is to poke fun at women, make a pseudo-gay gesture or reference, or actually want the sexual act.

I can’t speak for gay men, but would have thought that the ‘men just need a place’ to have sex idea was offensive as it suggests that being gay stops you from wanting an actual relationship with emotions and feelings and time spent together not having sex. It is a real shame that some clever wit wasn’t employed in this feature as it could have been very dry and satirical if they had laid off the woman hating!

Alyssa // Posted 12 November 2008 at 10:21 pm

This is in no way surprising.

Gay male culture is deeply rooted in hatred of women.

It routinely privileges the male experience at the expense of all women, although they seem to take a special delight in hurting trans women. The events at London Pride were especially telling, as is the heavy use of misogynistic themes in gay culture.

Misogyny and transphobia are very deeply ingrained in gay male consciousness. This image is simply a drop in a very big ocean.

Lindsey // Posted 13 November 2008 at 8:51 am


You’re tarring a lot of people with that brush, and assuming that all gay men have the same culture and indoctrination is a massive generalisation. I’m sorry you had bad experiences at pride but it’s not fair to lump all gay men in the same catagory – we don’t like it when people do it to us.

Bee // Posted 13 November 2008 at 9:50 am

Why did they not just cut straight to the chase and say “Hey guys, we all know women are crap, so you might as well be gay”?.

Quicker, and the message is the same.

Soirore // Posted 13 November 2008 at 1:08 pm

Lindsey – regarding your tarring comment; feminists often refer to us all being subject to patriarchal culture and dominant counter cultures also have power structures.

Just like we don’t say that all men conform to patriarchy not all gay men conform to mainstream gay culture (as shown in the Gay Times eg). It is not wrong to state that there can be a culture of misogyny without saying that all members of that culture are misogynistic.

I too have experienced a lot of misogyny from the male gay community (I’m talking mainstream gay culture here), and it is undermining for you to suggest that this is exceptional rather than common. The woman hating culture made it difficult for me to spend time with gay friends in gay spaces because we were made to feel unwelcome; me because I was a nobody fag-hag and them because they were consorting with me.

Fran // Posted 13 November 2008 at 1:52 pm

Lawtears: “The one shown with Amy Whitehouse et al, I suspect, was one made deliberately for the hetro males. There’s nothing like throwing pics of women that most women also seem to hate to make a point. A similar ad might be A Hitler, P Pot, S Hussein, K Jong II (all dictorial men) with “Go Buddist” written above it. Wouldn’t that be sexist? They’re all men!”

Because the Gay Times ad is implying that because some women are “disgusting”, therefore ALL women are. How could this NOT be misogynism? If your dictator ad had the subtitle “go lesbian”, it would imply that all men are as bad as Hitler et al and would be equally offensive.

Cruella // Posted 13 November 2008 at 6:02 pm

How about an advert for lesbianism with Josef Fritzl, OJ Simpson, Mike Tyson, Phil Spector, etc? Oh apart from that would make a legitimate point that women are at serious risk of male intimate partner violence rather than just a dumb in-joke about how totally AWFUL it would be to date Cherie Blair, the immaculately-turned-out highly successful human-rights lawyer…

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