In one TV ad, a husband and wife talk fondly of a lesbian couple who moved into their neighborhood. In another, a married couple speaks of wanting fair treatment for their lesbian daughter. A third features a pastor talking supportively about gay unions.
Each of these ads ran recently in states with gay marriage issues on the November ballot. What’s missing? Gay people speaking for themselves.
It’s an understandable concern, but I’m not entirely sure I care.
What I mean is, you could show turnips in the ad. Or Martians, for all I care. I just want to win. And if straight people need to see other straight people, or if black people are more convinced by other African-Americans, for that matter, be my guest, show em. I’m not going to complain that there aren’t enough “white people” in the ad. In my view, diversity goes out the window when you’re trying to convince someone that you’re right. It’s not about having the rainbow coalition in every ad. It’s not about making gay people feel included. It’s about making straight people agree with us. And if that means not putting any gay people in the ad, I’m fine with that.
Now, those who disagree would say that we’ve lost in every state running these kind of gay-less ads. And that’s true. Though it’s not entirely clear that was lost BECAUSE of these ads. For all we know, the ads might have helped, but other facts weighed more heavily against us. I don’t know. But I’m not sure if the critics know either.
Our guts aren’t enough. I’d like to see data. Focus groups. Polling. That shows that having gay people pitch our rights to straight people is the most effective use of our advertising. I just don’t buy the argument that it’s somehow closeted of us to put straight people up front. Again, this isn’t a pride parade. It’s a political battle. And if a straight person is a better salesman for my rights, then more power to them.
We’ll have more than enough time for diversity when we’re free.
What do you think? Should a pro-Latino immigration ad include a Latino? Does it “have” to? How about an ad for some issue near and dear to African-Americans? If you’re African-American, would you be offended if your political decided it was better to have a white spokesman on the issue?
AP did a video on this story as well: