Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Positive Images (Part Two): TD Does It Again

So yesterday, I opened "The Vancouver Sun," and I saw an ad for TD featuring a heterosexual couple.  Looked great, as all TD's ads do, but, honestly, I missed seeing the ad from last week, featuring a gay, older couple on a street in an historic area of a city or town (see "Positive Images (Revised)," published on January 12, 2011).

But, this morning, I opened my newspaper again, and there, on A5, was another TD ad, taking up almost a full page, this one with another gay male couple on it, and not the same couple as last week.

The scene in this image is on a dock at a lake in front of a two-storey, white vacation home.  In the background is a forest, and parked along the dock in the foreground is a fancy speed boat.  On the dock is a handsome gay couple, a man in black and white stripped shorts and black Polo shirt, sitting in TD's iconic large, green, upholstered chair (I'll call him Ernie), and his partner sitting next to him on the arm of the chair, wearing Khaki shorts and a red and white checkered shirt (I'll call him Burt).

Ernie has his right elbow resting on Burt's thigh, and Burt is leaning in to Ernie, his left hand resting on Ernie's upper arm, his right hand on Ernie's right bicep.  Both men look to be in their forties, Burt with short grey hair, a little bit of life's experience in their faces, and both have shared a good laugh or have seen something funny in the distance, judging from their broad smiles.  Perhaps they're pleased with themselves for the financial decisions they've made over the years as a long-time couple (I can fantasize about the details all I want), allowing them to buy this Cape Cod-style vacation home any of us would be happy to own.

Anyway, if TD doesn't stop presenting all of these positive images in their newspaper ads, I might just get the idea being a gay male couple is as normal and natural in Canada in 2011 as has been the case for straight couples since the beginning of time (or at least since TD began advertising in big city newspapers). I'm not sure what would happen if the general population started to get that idea. Who knows where that could lead us.

Once again, I must commend TD for playing a major role in increasing the visibility of gay, older male couples in a positive and uplifting way.  For all intents and purposes, Chris and I are the two men on that dock, and I'm thrilled we're shown in a way that's respectful, gives us our dignity as a same-sex couple, and demonstrates we're just like straight couples, in love with each other and sharing a life together.

I hope the caption at the top of the newspaper ad is prescient.  It states in bold white letters:

                                    Today:  Dreaming the dream.
                                    Someday:  Living the dream.

I don't take this to mean only living the dream of owning a vacation home on a lake somewhere (which is not really Chris's and my dream anyway).  More importantly, I take this to mean, today, we dream the dream of being an openly gay couple out in public, with no judgement brought to us.  And, someday, that dream will be a full-blown reality.

Thanks again, TD.  We love you for your support and commitment of gay people everywhere.  Keep up the great work.

P.S.:  The picture above is obviously not the one I describe in this post, but I love it, too.

(A couple of things:
1).  TD, if you're listening, please consider presenting real gay couples in your ads, for the reason I specified in my earlier post about last week's ad; and
2).  If you live in small-town Canada, please let me know if any of TD's same-sex ads appear in their branches or in your local newspapers.  Thanks.)


  1. I hesitate to call myself "small-town Canada", but I know it to be true. Somehow my city feels like a city without being a metropolis.

    But an image like this - an advertisement like this - has never been visible in Regina. Sadly.

    Actually, I remember having to explain to one of my best friends some of the challenges about being gay. He wasn't really supportive of my "lifestyle choice", but wanted to understand it. I asked him how often he was bombarded by sexual advertisement in a single day. His response mostly surprised me - it was far higher than I expected. He didn't understand.

    I told him I never would've noticed it - ever.

    And that I had never seen advertisements directed towards me - not until the internet starting impacting me and I started reading blogs based out of California.

    The money that my sexuality generates isn't even worth asking for. That is what he understood. And that is what shocked him.

    Advertising became a key to helping him understand.

  2. Neal, I really appreciate your response.
    Based on what Sarah said recently, I suspected TD might be selective around where their same-sex ads ran. I'm with you on this. Likely TD doesn't think they'd receive a favorable response in small-town Canada, but I feel for gay people in those places, like you, who never see themselves reflected back at them in a way that makes them feel validated.
    It's also disappointing because the message TD sends is inconsistent across the country. In essence, they're saying it's all right to be gay in Vancouver or Toronto or Montreal, but not in Prince George or St. Johns or Regina. TD needs to make the commitment to support gays and lesbians no matter where they may reside. Unfortunately, this taints their ad campaign for me.
    And thanks for the explanation around advertising with a little sex thrown in. Your point is well made. Looks like you had some success with your good friend.
    Thanks again.

  3. So, after reading this post yesterday, I sent TD bank an email, saying that while I was happy to have seen their ads showing same-sex couples in Vancouver, I wondered if these ads were market specific. I also said that I thought it would be great if they targeted other markets as well, like my own Calgary. I'll keep you posted if they write back (they say they respond to all questions, so we'll see...)

  4. If I haven't said this already, Sarah, you're amazing. That you would take this further when it's not your battle to fight really impresses me, and I know other readers will be similarly impressed, too. We could use other champions who are straight and who also see the inequalities in our society. Thanks for being an advocate. Your efforts are sincerely appreciated.
    (By the way, if you don't mind me asking, what is your interest in helping gay people? Perhaps you have a gay friend or relative you're fond of, which obviously makes a difference. Or perhaps you just care. Whatever the case, if you don't mind me asking what makes you so compassionate toward us, please let me know, either here in my blog (where other readers can see it), or via direct email to me. My email ID is in my profile. Thanks again for supporting us.)

  5. Hi Rick, I don't mind responding here...and I just wrote a novel, and then it disappeared, so maybe that's the blog-god's way of telling me to be a little briefer! I was basically writing that I don't really know why I feel so strongly about this. I don't have any family members who are gay (well, the kids aren't all grown up yet, so...), but I know gay people in our community who are wonderful, and I knew people growing up (my dad's an architect, and one of the guys in his office, who was openly gay back in the mid to late 70s when I was around 13 or 14, was a really good friend, and I loved hanging out with him), but there are probably lots of people who have had that experience and don't take it so "personally," so in that respect, hmm, I don't know. I read Dan Savage's blog, and comment on it frequently, and have made some "blog friends" with some of the guys on it, who are gay, and sometimes these homophobes will troll the threads, and say really awful things. Maybe that's what's done it, seeing the absolute hate and vitriol that these people spew on the threads that makes me want to stand up for these people who are so smart, and funny, and delightful, and for no reason other than their orientation, they have this hateful stuff directed at them. It breaks my heart. It also breaks my heart when I hear about the teen suicides, because I know how hard it was for my son when he was bullied (although he's straight, and 22 and living in Vancouver, your fine city, now!) So, that's the shortest answer I can come up with! It's so nice of you to say those really sweet things, but I think there are more of us out there than you realize. You are awesome for putting up with the crap that is out there, and still doing a blog that seeks to help others. I would love to think that I can help, maybe my part will be that of a straight, typical “mum and wife” who is outraged, and if there are more straight people who speak out, it makes it harder for the haters to make this a “gay issue,” instead of a human rights issue, plain and simple. Here’s hoping, anyway. (And no response from TD Bank yet.)

    Hugs, Rick.

  6. Wow, Sarah! What a wonderful and detailed comment. And, since I'm responding to this on Friday, after receiving your email about the problems you've had leaving a comment, I really appreciate you taking the time and having the patience to write it again. If that had happened to me, I might have given up (at least at the time), but I'm sure glad you didn't.
    Your understanding and appreciation of gay people is commendable. I think when gay people get support like that from straight people, we don't know what to do. It's unexpected, and it throws us.
    But your point is well made: lots of straight people support gay people and want things to be equal between us. I think it helps you've had positive experiences with gay people in the past, but I suspect whatever religious leanings you have (if any at all) are at play here, too. Some people use religion to slam anything and everything, and they believe they're doing the right thing. While other people worship a more inclusive God, as I do, a God that doesn't judge us because of our differences and sets an example for human beings to follow.
    Whatever the case, I'm grateful for your support and for your ongoing contribution to this blog. I have no doubt your words help to engender better understanding between gay and straight people, so, believe me, you are playing your part. On behalf of all gay people, I tip my hat to you. Like I said before (I think I did, anyway), we love you, Sarah.

  7. Aw, Rick, you're making me all teary! I so appreciate what you're saying, because sometimes I feel like I'm still learning a lot, and don't want to offend your community by saying the wrong thing (I write lots of letters to the Herald...and I kind of wonder if I'm overstepping my bounds in this particular area...)
    I'm not religious (gave it a shot, but discovered that many mainstream religions are mostly for and by straight guys--women get pretty short shrift, too), but I'd like to follow a "good parts" version of all religions, you know, the "be kind, be a good person" without the "guilt and judgment" parts. I think for some people, religion can provide a community of sorts, but all too often, the loudest voices in the religious community are the ones that seek to condemn, or at the very least, excuse their behaviour under the guise of their "morals." So I get a little tired of hearing people use their religion as a cloak for their bigotry. (This has been in the Herald this week, starting last Friday, with the same-sex marriage commissioner ruling in Saskatchewan.) Too many voices out there who say they're just "following their conscience" or whatever. One can imagine them saying the same thing about being pro-segregation, or anti-Semitic...ah well. An uphill journey, I guess.

  8. Sarah, thanks for your views about religion. You are I are on the same page. Where I think religion gets into trouble is when religious folks try to impose their interpretation of the Bible and their way of life on all the rest of us.
    I lost my taste for formalized religion decades ago, having been raised a Catholic, but realizing no one in the Catholic church would support me as a gay person. Unfortunately (or fortunately), religion went by the wayside in my life because I couldn't imagine my God judging me as harshly as some supposedly religious people would. But I still very much maintain my relationship with God and consider myself spiritual.
    And, for the record, I believe God gave me the idea to do what I've done with my blog this year. I thought long and hard about doing something completely different from what I'd done over the previous two years, and I wanted to make a positive difference in the lives of other gay people. I've been bothered for so long about how low self-esteem manifests itself in gay people's lives that I believe God told me to follow my heart, to have the courage, and to give this a try. So far, I've connected with some wonderful readers I hadn't before, you included, and I've heard from some gay men I sincerely want to help if I can.
    Thanks again for your comment and for keeping the dialogue going.