Business, Not Politics: The Making of the Gay Market by Katherine Sender

By Katherine Sender

In a hard-hitting publication that refutes traditional knowledge, Katherine Sender explores the relationship among the company of promoting to homosexual shoppers and the politics of homosexual rights and id. She disputes a few agents' claims that advertising appeals to homosexual and lesbian shoppers are an issue of ''business, no longer politics'' and that the company of homosexual advertising should be thought of independently of the politics of homosexual rights, id, and visibility.

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28 EVOLUTION, NOT REVOLUTION need to offer the same circulation and readership data that other magazines could. ”21 Whether this ad read as gay to gay or heterosexual audiences in the 1950s, history does not relate. Despite the dearth of open appeals to gay consumers through the 1960s, a range of cultural and advertising trends that marked the latter half of this decade as one of nonconformity, defiance, and self-chosen identity set the stage for the earliest attempts to imagine a gay market. 24 These political movements, in turn, made identity groups more visible to mainstream marketers.

What is striking in this history is the similar processes of market formation to those of the African American niche development decades earlier. It would be a mistake to overplay the similarities between African American and gay market formation, however, both because racism and homophobia function differently and because such a comparison falls into the trap of niche marketing itself, which assumes that all people of color are straight and all gays are white. With these cautions in mind, such a comparison nevertheless offers insight into the routinized practices of market formation and suggests some of the strategies by which marketers produce a desirable market from a stigmatized group.

All marketing, whatever the target niche, both creates and distorts the cultural identities it represents; gay and lesbian marketing is not unusual in this sense. What is significant, however, are the distinctive ways by which marketing makes available, misrepresents, and influences the meaning of gayness in a history of invisibility, homophobia, and heterosexism. 61 Researching the Gay Market To look at how marketing processes have helped to produce both sexual identity and a vision of gay lives worth emulating, I focused on people involved in producing gay advertising, marketing strategies, market research, and even the idea of the gay market itself.

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