Monthly Archives: May 2010

Gay Retirement Homes: Million Dollar Idea or Money Trap?

When we were undergrads, my friends and I often planned our futures while pouring ourselves cocktails from plastic liter bottles of cheap vodka.  While we would concoct money-making schemes for hours on end, we always seemed to return to one can’t-miss business idea:  a gay retirement home.  It makes perfect sense: the gay population is aging rapidly, has deep pockets, and doesn’t want to retire to developments full of straight people.  It seems like a no-brainer.

Newsweek released a story this week that suggests my friends and I were on to something.  According to the article, the gay population is much more concerned about their well-being as they age, largely because most don’t have children to rely on as their health care needs grow.  The website Gay Retirement Guide reports there are approximately 25 gay retirement centers across the country, up from just 1 in 2001.  Furthermore, a study by the Metlife Mature Marketing Institute and the American Society on Aging reveals that over 25% of GLBT baby-boomers fear discrimination as they grow older.  Gay retirees just want a place where they can grow old gracefully and respectfully with like-minded neighbors.

However, another article from Edge Boston suggests the gay retirement industry may not be as can’t-miss as it appears.  Stonewall Miner, LLC, a planned gay retirement development in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood recently went belly-up as funding ran out.  Similar projects in Dallas and Oregon have fallen through.  Yes, launching any kind of real estate venture in this economy is a near impossible battle, but the article brings up another interesting point that I have a feeling developers tend to miss.

There’s a common misconception that elderly GLBT individuals have huge disposable incomes, but the fact is, queer seniors have a lower median income than their heterosexual counterparts.  It’s true that GLBT retirees would prefer to live among their own, but if the price tag is too high they’ll have to turn elsewhere.  As the gay senior population continues to grow, there is obviously a potentially lucrative market for GLBT retirement developments.  The challenge for developers will be to offer locations and amenities the clientele demands, but at costs that won’t break the bank.

Advertisements Launches GLBT Travel Site

Recognizing the buying power of gay travelers, Expedia has launched a mini-site devoted to GLBT travel.  The site, which was launched in association with the International Gay & Lesbian Tourism Association, allows visitors to search from about 500 GLBT-friendly hotels worldwide as well as events, festivals, and nightclubs.  You can tour the site here.

While I commend Expedia for reaching out to the GLBT community, it perplexes me that it took so long to do so. has wooed its gay clientele since the company’s inception and has been a corporate model for support of the GLBT community.  Orbitz’ gay website is more user-friendly, and you can click through to it from the homepage.  On the other hand, Expedia’s gay section is buried within  Here’s a challenge:  start at the Expedia homepage and try to find the GLBT site.  It took me about 20 minutes to get there.

Despite Expedia’s belatedness, I’m happy to see the company putting forth an effort to accommodate gay travelers.  It’s a smart move, because, as we all know, travel is hugely important to GLBT consumers, and even in difficult economic times, gays will continue to spend on recreational activities.

Gay Advertisement #9: Is 2xist Ad Too Racy?

Flipping through the latest edition of Out the other day, I couldn’t help but stop and stare at the 2xist ad you see above.  It’s kind of hard to miss.  The ad, featuring Brazilian model Andre Ziehe, has sent readers’ tongues wagging, but at least one publication has deemed it too racy for its pages.  Details has chosen to publish a less risque version of the ad featuring only frontal shots of Ziehe.  Men’s Health will also run the more conservative ad, though the magazine’s editors claim they were only offered that version.

It’s not surprising that Out was the only magazine of the three that chose to publish the daring ad.  After all, Out is a “gay” magazine, and while Details and Men’s Health acknowledge their gay tendencies, they have yet to fully come out of the periodical closet.

In a previous post I discussed how marketers often resort to sex when targeting gay men (an attraction to the male body is our least common denominator after all).  While it’s true that I would prefer gay-targeted ads to use smarts over sex, the reality is that 2xist is marketing underwear – sexy, barely-there underwear at that.  What options do they have?

In another post I lamented on the subject matter of the majority of Out‘s advertisements.  It seems that ads for fashion, recreation, alcohol, and HIV medications tend to dominate the magazine’s pages (in the post, however, I acknowledged it’s not really the magazine’s fault).  At the same time, I am a fervent believer that publications should run the ads their advertisers provide, assuming they don’t break any laws.  At the end of the day, the ad is tastefully done, and I give credit to Out for having the courage to publish it.

qnotes Adapts To Reader Preferences, Reinvents Itself

Much has been made of the decline of the newspaper industry due in large part to the emergence of online media (here’s an earlier post on the topic, and here’s another.)  Particularly hard hit have been smaller, regional publications who don’t have the resources or ability to adapt to a changing media landscape.  That’s why it’s so great to hear about one GLBT publication – Charlotte, NC-based qnotes – that has transformed itself in response to these shifts (as reported by Press Pass Q).

If there’s one thing gays know how to do, it’s reinvent themselves, and qnotes is no exception.  Realizing the publication needed a revamping, qnotes recently launched a new design and layout, a new logo and branding, new online content, events listings, and editorial direction – all designed to adapt to changing consumer tastes.

“Instead of looking at ourselves as a newspaper that has a website, we look at ourselves as a media company that has two products,” says editor Matt Comer. “We’ve got a brand new look and fresh editorial direction.”  Comer’s point of view on his publication’s product offering is refreshing in a time when so many smaller GLBT newspapers are struggling to survive.  To visit qnotes online go to or look for print editions on newstands across the Carolinas.

IGLTA Convention To Be Held June 23-27 In Antwerp

The International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) will hold its Annual Global Convention in Antwerp June 23-27.  The event has grown to become the world’s leading GLBT tourism conference and will provide priceless networking and educational opportunities for those wishing to enter or further their presence in this market.

The convention itinerary includes press conferences, spouse and partner tours, educational sessions, media trade show, consumer trade show, gala dinner, and numerous networking parties and events.  Registration for the convention is still open, and this year’s event will be held in conjuction with Antwerp’s Gay Pride celebration.  For more information, including an event itenerary, visit

Gay Advertisement #8: McDonald’s Targets Gays in France

I usually focus on gay marketing efforts within the U.S., but I couldn’t pass up this new commercial being aired in France by McDonald’s.  Here’s a rough translation of the ad courtesy of Daniel Extra:

Son (on the phone): Hello? I was thinking about you too. I was looking at our class picture. I miss you too. I have to go, my father’s coming back. Lots of love.
Dad: Is that your class picture? I used to look just like you at your age. Girls just loved me. Too bad it’s an all boys’ class. You would get lucky.

Doesn’t that just set your heart aflutter?!

The ad is noteworthy, because as far as I can tell, this is the first time McDonald’s has featured a gay storyline in an advertisement.  Commercial Closet has catalogued a few McDonald’s commercials, but none of them are overtly targeted to gays like this one.

Controversial HIV Awareness Campaign Ends

The Illinois Department of Public Health has pulled the plug on a website and ad campaign encouraging people to get tested for HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases after a flood of complaints from the gay community.  The controversy surrounds one of the campaign’s prominent creative elements:  an image of a man’s face pieced together from the faces of four different men, with the copy “He’s the one” in bold at the top, followed by “that could infect you” below.

Though the ad was supported by many, detractors claim it may discourage HIV-positive people from divulging their status.  Others say the ads demonize HIV-positive gay men, portraying them as scary, “Frankenstein” types.  Despite only being launched weeks earlier, the Department of Public Health pulled the ads and shut down the ad campaign’s supporting website