“If brands do decide to address gays, they don’t include lesbians”

A meeting with Amandine Miguel, spokesperson for Inter LGBT, head of Lesbian Visibility

What do you think of gay marketing (brands who particularly target the homosexual community)?

Firstly, it is wrong to think that the “gay marketing” label includes all of the LGBT community (although it is often used in this respect in Anglo-Saxon countries). “Gay marketing” primarily addresses homosexual men and not lesbians or transsexuals who don’t interest brands due to their weak shopping power, remaining invisible within the public community. There is a clear difference in shopping power within the different components of the LGBT community (we are talking in a general sense here, casualization is unfortunately everywhere). On the one hand, the procedure that the state imposed in order to change the marital rights for this community was a lengthy, costly and degrading process, which places them in an extremely precarious situation. On the other hand, it is women that are most affected by insecurities, thus lesbians as well as women are directly impacted.

Should brands speak in a specific way to the lesbian community? Or is it discriminatory?

It all depends on how they are addressed in our community as it is not an act of discrimination to address them as a particular community. Yet defining the “sexual communities” is difficult, as the culture and references that the L, G, B and T share are not the same. And if you are stubborn enough to believe in the existence of a common culture but also an alleged universality of a “LGBT culture”, you immediately fall back into the traditional sexist view: which confuses the masculine and the so called neutral universal with the “LGBT culture”. It is said that the identification of the gay culture also acts as a representative of the LGBT culture.

Does advertising play a role in the evolution of opinions?

Advertising plays a role in the evolution of mentalities in the sense that it contributes to the construction of representations that we have in the world. By makings lesbians, bisexuals, gays and transsexuals visible, all whilst representing them in a positive way, it has an influence on the evolution of mentalities.

Certain brands seem cautious to communicate media intended for sexual minorities? How would you explain that? What actions can be put in place?

Brands target the widest possible audience: from the reactionary consumer to the progressive consumer. By addressing the media targeted for the LGBT community, they fear that they will lose a part of their consumers, most notably the “LGBTphobics”, who could interpret these ads as the political commitment of brands in favour of equal rights (although in reality their motivations reside only in increasing their turnovers). The only answers we can provide is to advance equal rights and combat LGBTphobics in order to reduce this LGBTphobic society.

Can you give us your opinion on the latest Schweppes campaign featuring lesbian imagery?

This lesbian representation has been extremely normalized as it appears here to be very feminine (lesbian lipstick). It is clear that this representation is almost the only « tolerated » way to represent lesbians in advertising, as it seems « acceptable »: it corresponds to female stereotypes assigned to women and doesn’t seem to represent a danger to heterosexuals. It also allows heterosexual women to be able to identify with the lesbian characters and satisfies the voyeuristic heterosexual man because it corresponds to the canon of heterosexual beauty. In short, the imaginary presented here has all of that made by and for heterosexual men, not by and for lesbians themselves. However, this campaign has the merit of making lesbianism visible without the presence lesbophobic insinuations.

Do brands address homosexual men or women more often and in the same way?

It seems to be that if brands do decide to address gays, they don’t include lesbians. In the sense that when they depict lesbian imagery; it is to satisfy the masculine eye (the famous “male gaze”) and therefore eroticize the product that they want to sell (for example the famous fantasy of two women together who love all heterosexual men). Considering their shopping power (which is weaker than the average) and their invisibility, lesbians aren’t interested in brands and the Chaumet ad (whose posters were removed by the city of Pecq), which featured two women about to kiss, is an excellent illustration of this. Indeed, not only are both consistent with gender stereotypes but also the similarity between the two women leads to confusion that generates a difficulty in identifying female homosexuality: lesbianism or the myth of Narcissus kissing his reflection? Which is what is exactly involved in the denial of lesbianism and its invisibility, a sneaky and specific violence towards lesbians. But the reason for the withdrawal of the ad by the city of Pecq is due to the lesbian imagery portrayed by this poster and not due to the reference of the myth of Narcissus, making it therefore a lesbophobic act.


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