Category Archives: Everything Else

For those posts that don’t fit nicely into any other category (much like myself)

Rentboy.com Execs Speak Out In Wake Of Rekers Scandal

Here’s a link to an exclusive interview with Rentboy.com CEO Jeffrey Davids and site director Sean Van Sant.  As I discussed in a previous post, Rentboy.com was thrust into the national spotlight after anti-gay activist and Baptist preacher George Rekers was exposed as having hired a male escort through the website.

Interestingly, in addition to sky-rocketing traffic totals, Van Sant and Davids report that the number of visitors from rural areas has increased.  “It’s drawn people from small towns. We never really had that before… If you don’t know anything about gay men, who’s going to teach you? And here’s Jay Leno, talking about us. I’m shocked at the ruralization of this service.  Wouldn’t it be amazing if Rekers – whose raison d’être has been to destroy his own secret life and the life of gay men everywhere – would end up making people feel OK about their sexuality? Wouldn’t that be the ultimate irony?”

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Texas A&M Markets To Gay Professors

Texas A&M University has found a defiant way to market itself to gay professors.  Despite the state’s ban on gay marriage, the university’s faculty senate passed a resolution to extend health benefits to same sex partners by a vote of 59 to 1.

Under Texas insurance code, only a “spouse and/or child” qualifies as a dependent, but proponents contend the school has the power to interpret the word “dependent” however its insurance needs require.  And because 23 of the nation’s top 25 U.S. universities (as identified by U.S. News & World Report) offer such benefits, the faculty senate contends Texas A&M must follow suit to remain competitive.

Because I’ve earned two degrees and spent 7 years of my life at Texas A&M, this matter is close to my heart.  I vividly remember 10 years ago when the school was named the “Least Gay-Friendly Public University” in the country and how the student body overwhelmingly reacted with a sense of pride to this distinction.  And while the student body is still quite possibly the most conservative campus in the nation, the faculty remains a bastion of progress and tolerance.

Despite the school’s conservative tilt, I have many fond memories of my time in Bryan-College Station due in large part to the excellent faculty and their influence in and around the community.  I salute the faculty senate in this bold move and hope the faculty’s overwhelming support is enough of an indication to state lawmakers that the resolution is in the best interest of all Texans.

I Fucking Hate Sarah Palin… But I’d Hire Her To Do My PR in a Heartbeat

I must preface this post by saying that I do not identify with either the Republican or Democratic parties.  I consider myself fairly politically agnostic.  The following post is not a reflection of my feelings towards conservatives as a whole, but rather to one in particular: Sarah Palin.  Palin’s staunch opposition to GLBT rights coupled with her meteoric rise in popularity among the far right wing should be worrisome to the gay community.

“I fucking hate Sarah Palin.”  That’s how Margaret Cho opened her most recent stand up show to the delight of her mostly gay audience.  Lisa Lampanelli memorably made Palin a centerpiece in her most recent comedy tour.  And while I love to see Tina Fey’s dead ringer impression of her as much as the next gay, it amazes me that despite monumentally embarrassing herself and the Republican party during the 2008 presidential election, she’s still at the center of our national attention a year and a half later.

Earlier this month President Obama engaged Palin in a verbal sparring match when she criticized his administration’s proposal to limit the use of nuclear weapons.  When asked for his reaction to Palin’s comments, rather than dismissing the question, Obama replied “Last I checked, Sarah Palin’s not much of an expert on nuclear issues.  If the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are comfortable with it, I’m probably going to take my advice from them and not from Sarah Palin.”  Touché Mr. Obama, but I have to ask, why are you giving her the attention she so desperately seeks yet so clearly doesn’t deserve?  Responding to her senseless comments only legitimizes her as a political authority.

It seems Palin is everywhere these days- going rogue on Fox News, rebel-rousing at Tea Party rallies, peddling her autobiography at book-signings, and soon to be snowmobiling around Alaska in a reality show on the Discovery Channel.  Whatever clipping service is tracking her mentions in the press must be making a killing!  And while the vast majority of her press mentions over the past year and half have been less than flattering, she could care less.  You see Palin is a student of the Paris Hilton School of Public Relations in that she believes any publicity is good publicity.  While this PR strategy might be apropos for a celebutante, it’s amazing that Palin is making it work for a politician (I use that term loosely).

After becoming a national laughingstock during the 2008 presidential election, Palin could have easily faded away like a bad memory.  However, she’s managed to keep herself in the forefront of our minds by whatever means necessary- whether it be overreacting to a fairly innocuous comment by David Letterman or feuding publicly with her grandson’s father (and major cock-tease) Levi Johnston.

And while she remains a favorite punching bag of liberals, Palin has emerged as a major political mouthpiece to millions nationwide.  She’s managed to tap in to a distinct segment of our population that find her folksy, down-home, everywoman rhetoric comforting during a time of economic and political unrest.  Palin has mastered a fundamental rule of marketing:  know your target market and use messaging that resonates with them.

Is she planning a 2012 presidential run?  You betcha!  But surely, you say, Americans wouldn’t actually elect her to the presidency, right?  Surely, we’re smarter than that. Are we?  We elected George Bush… twice.  The sad truth is something about her appeals to a large portion of the American populace- a portion that typically emerges in droves on election day.

Like a bad case of herpes Sarah Palin just won’t go away.  As long as we keep lampooning her on sketch comedy shows, skewering her on late night television, and blogging about her on gay-oriented marketing websites, Sarah Palin will stick around.  We can laugh at her all we want now, because in the end, she may be the one laughing… all the way to the white house.

Support Companies that Support Us With HRC’s “Buying For Equality” Guide

Every year the Human Rights Campaign releases its “Buying For Equality” guide.  The publication scores hundreds of companies using HRC’s Corporate Equality Index weighing factors such as banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, providing benefits for GLBT employees and their families and supporting GLBT equality publicly.  You can download a copy of the guide here.

The Buying For Equality guide suggests three ways that you can take action:

1.  Share this information with your friends, family and co-workers.  Help them to become supporters of equality by using the information in this guide.

2.  Advocate for equality in the workplace.  If your company isn’t on this list or you think it can do better, go to www.hrc.org/cei to find out how to get it engaged.

3.  Get active about equality. Sign up for newsletters and Action Alerts at www.hrc.org/consumeradvocacy.

Oops… April 16th was National Day of Silence

On April 16th, 2010, the National Day of Silence was observed across the United States.  Hundreds of thousands of students nationwide took a vow of silence to bring attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in their schools. Members of the media, bloggers, and on-air personalities across the nation joined the event, sponsored nationally by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network.

Coincidentally, OGM chose April 16th as its launch day.  Oops, my bad.  In all seriousness, this is a great idea for a great cause.  Nearly 9 out of 10 gay youths report being verbally abused at their schools and 3 out of 5 say they don’t feel safe.  To learn more about the National Day of Silence visit http://www.dayofsilence.org/index.cfm.

Welcome to Openly Gay Marketing

Depending on whom you ask, the U.S. gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered population encompasses approximately 16 million people.  Despite the fact that this segment of the population has a buying power of nearly $800 billion, it remains largely untargeted by American businesses.  Historically, the gay community has been either greatly misunderstood by marketers or ignored altogether.

Why is this?  It’s hard to imagine why such a distinct, identifiable target market has escaped the crosshairs of marketing professionals for so long.  A few entities within a few industries have made efforts at pursuing the gay market – airlines, hospitality, tourism, alcohol, and financial services come to mind – but by and large it remains an untapped market.

If targeted right, gay consumers could be a cash cow for American businesses.  The opportunities are there.  The gay community has its own magazines, newspapers, radio stations, and even television networks.   Yet for some reason the gay population seems to perplex the American marketing community.  In speaking to fellow marketing professionals any number of theories abound.  “They’re too hard to target.” “Our product isn’t right for that market.” And my favorite: “I’m afraid we’ll alienate the rest of our customers if we start marketing to the gay community.”

Other demographics have whole agencies devoted to them – Asians, women, Hispanics, elderly – yet I can’t find evidence of a single noteworthy ad agency in the U.S. focusing on the GLBT community (note to self:  start gay-oriented ad agency).  I have come across foreign agencies targeted to homosexuals, and gay-targeted advertising efforts abound abroad.  Yet for some reason, our community remains an enigma to U.S. marketers.

I’ve started this blog to begin a dialogue that should be happening in ad agencies and marketing departments across the nation.  I intend to evaluate the good, the bad, and the ugly in gay-targeted marketing efforts, relay gay marketing news stories of note, and comment on what it takes to market to the GLBT community.  Along the way, I hope to help American marketing professionals unlock the mystery that is the gay consumer.

What are your thoughts?  Any ideas why more companies don’t target the gay community?