While first glancing at this advertisement I initially feel admiration for a company as high profile as Tiffany & Co. for showing support to a “controversial issue” that still exists in many countries around the world. Featuring a visibly gay couple in advertisements unfortunately still puts companies at risk of losing sales and customers and overall I appreciate their efforts in supporting gay rights. This advertisement is a step in the right direction but there is much more that needs to be done.
A quick google search of “gay advertisements” shows you the types of models that companies are willing to display as gay in their ads. The vast majority are white, seemingly masculine men who are dressed well and traditionally. It’s obvious that as gay culture becomes more integrated into mainstream society, an acceptable form of homosexuality has been constructed. “Homonormative” is a relatively new term that describes this type of acceptable homosexuality and puts this group of gay people who best conform to the norms produced by the dominant heterosexual culture on a pedestal. This advertisement is a perfect example of this particular phenomenon as it is an intersection of white privilege, middle to upper class privilege, gender privilege, and cisexism. It displays two white males who are seemingly a monogamous couple, with masculine features like short, well-kept hair, scruff and gendered clothing. Not to mention, the product the company is selling through this advertisement is perhaps the biggest symbol of heteronormativity there is: wedding rings. Further, this company is infamous for being very expensive, and their products are typically only purchased by people within the middle to upper class demographic. Therefore, perhaps what Tiffany & Co. is really selling in their advertisement is a way for gay people to be “normal,” something only available for a portion of the LGBTQ+ community.
My jamming philosophy was to suggest how a seemingly “inclusive” advertisement actually excludes many groups of people. I didn’t have to change much since the original advertisement already embodies so many features of homonormativity. It’s difficult to read but the caption on the top right corner says, “Will you promise to never stop completing my sentences or singing off-key, which I’m afraid you do often? and will you let today be the first sentence of one long story that never, ever ends?” Instead I changed it to “Will you promise to never stop adhering to what has been deemed the acceptable way to be gay? And will you let our social privilege continue to advance our equality while others are left behind?” This is a much realer and more blunt description of such an ad and speaks to the lack of gay character diversity in the majority of popular “gay” advertisements. Essentially, I’m aiming to explain how due to their perceived identity this type of homosexuality would be accepted and perhaps even glorified by mainstream culture. As Laura Kacere in Homonormativity 101 said, this can lead to “leaving many people out of the movement toward greater sexual freedom and equality” as this particular group is the only one advancing. This intersectionality of gender, race, sexuality, etc. ultimately creates a hierarchy within the LGBTQ community, with the “most privileged” at the top. I also changed the colors of the rings to a red and blue tint (the colors that are culturally assigned to males and females) to emphasize just how heteronormative the social act they are conforming to (marriage) is.
In no way am I faulting gay people who conform to more normative standards, and I’m certainly not against gay people getting married. I’m simply pointing out that advertisements like this don’t eliminate “the other” population in our society, it just changes who “the other” is. It’s important for companies to acknowledge and display all spectrums of the LGBTQ+ so all queer people can advance with equality together.