And the prize for the best representation of gay men in the mainstream media ever goes to...TD Canada Trust, for its ad on page A8 in "The Vancouver Sun" on Tuesday, January 11, 2011 (and I hope other newspapers across Canada).
When I saw the image--which, thanks to ChaoticGRRL, I'm now able to include in this post--my heart was filled with pride for being a gay man (possibly in a way it never has been before). I've waited years for something like this, to see myself represented in a positive and upstanding way. Finally, in so many ways, I feel validated.
Here's a brief interpretation of what's included in the picture:
The prime subjects of the picture are a couple of men, one tall, black, wearing dark grey slacks, a light grey, zippered sweater, and a purple shirt, a large paper shopping bag propped in his left arm containing a French baguette surrounded by some green leafy vegetable.
The second man is shorter, Caucasian, cropped grey hair, wearing grey jeans, a black jacket, and a white shirt, a purple-and-white striped shopping bag hanging from his right hand, and a white/grey/red scarf knotted loosely around his neck, like every second man in Paris. The white fellow has his left arm around the black fellow's right arm, mimicking the image of the straight couple down the street behind them. Both men wear warm, contented smiles, obviously a happy, loving gay couple, as they walk home to make dinner together.
Here's why this ad wins the prize:
1. It's bold. Make no mistake, the picture is about these two gay men, in love with each other, in a long-term relationship. No coyness here. No confusion about who they are and what they are.
2. The two men are older, perhaps in their mid-fifties. They are both attractive and take care of themselves. They are dignified, vital, even sexy. How many times have you seen two older gay men portrayed that way?
3. Both men are immaculately attired. Gratefully, a twenty-something, overblown muscle hunk in nothing but his Calvin Kleins is nowhere to be seen. Which just goes to show muscles and nudity are not necessary to get our attention.
If I could make just two teeny-tiny suggestions on how this image could be improved for the future, they would be:
1. The ring on the left hand of the Caucasian fellow should be on his wedding finger, not on his pinkie (a gay stereotype). Thus, a shout-out could be given to Canada, one of the few countries in the world progressive enough to legalize same-sex marriage.
2. Feature real gay couples--real gay men in real relationships with each other (I suspect the two men in this ad are models, not a true couple). Using real gay couples would add a layer of authenticity to the image and to your advertising campaign. Chris and I are available.
Congratulations, TD Canada Trust!
You've taken a big risk featuring a gay male couple and presenting it as equal to a straight couple--in respectability, legitimacy, even normalcy. No doubt, some of your customers don't appreciate your position and have taken their business elsewhere. On the other hand, you've likely gained customers because they salute you, your progressiveness, and your celebration of diversity.
Of all the large national corporations, you are the only one to take such a visible and positive stand on behalf of gay men, putting your reputation and your profitability behind it, thereby setting an example of the right thing to do. Gay men, especially those in long-term, committed, and loving relationships, from Kitimat to Flin Flon to Grand Bank, join me in standing to applaud you.
Bravo! And thank you.