Departmental Papers (ASC)

Document Type

Book Chapter

Date of this Version

January 2004

Publication Source

Business, Not Politics: The Making of the Gay Market

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"Advertising clearly isn't treating the gay movement as a viable market, deserving of special campaigns and special treatment, as it is now beginning to do with blacks and women and has done for years with teenagers." So declared Advertising Age in 1972, under the headline: "No Gay Market Yet, Admen, Gays Agree:" Yet within three decades, the gay market and, gay and lesbian media were sufficiently established for Viacom subsidiaries MTV and Showtime to explore the development of a gay cable channel, Outlet. MTV executive Matt Farber described this progression as "an evolution, not a revolution," contrasting the image of a revolution - a politically motivated, violent upheaval with a Darwinian ideal, where natural selection by an intrinsically fair, equilibrium-seeking free market facilitates an inexorable march toward increasingly progressive images of GLBT people, "Evolution, not revolution" is the cousin of "business, not politics": it suggests that gay marketing, and the media it supports, simply evolved through rational development within the entrepreneurial sphere, and disavows the efforts of marketers, media publishers, journalists, market researchers, and consumers themselves toward actively producing this market. Yet despite marketers' claims that they are interested in gay and lesbian consumers for dispassionate reasons of "business, not politics," the history of the gay market shows that this consumer niche was forged out of an intimate meeting of the entrepreneurial search for ever-expanding sources of revenue and the political quest for sexual equality.

Copyright/Permission Statement

Reprinted with permission.



Date Posted: 29 April 2008