Gay Beer Ads Are Nothing to Celebrate

By Warren J. Blumenfeld

As someone who has examined the ways some tobacco and alcohol companies target marginalized or stigmatized communities, such as people of color, the working class and the poor -- communities that, due to their stigmatization, often have higher rates of tobacco consumption and alcoholism -- I have mixed reactions to the announcement that Anheuser-Busch is targeting the gay community by depicting two men holding hands in its Bud Light ads. And I use the word "target" deliberately.

While it is extremely important to increase our visibility, I have enormous misgivings and am extremely uncomfortable about any company or industry that markets these substances to our communities. Exactly what type of "visibility" are we talking about, anyway? Since the ads are geared to the gay community, they will most likely appear *only* in "our" newspapers and magazines -- not in mainstream media. They might also appear on billboards in predominantly gay and lesbian neighborhoods.

Consider the following:

So even if alcohol ads aimed at the gay community do increase our visibility in society at large, we must ask ourselves, "At what cost?" I conclude that the cost is far too great a price to pay.

Warren J. Blumenfeld is co-author of Looking at Gay and Lesbian Life, and editor of Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price. He is also the editor of The Journal of Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Identity. He can be reached at blumenfeld@educ.umass.edu

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