Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Summer of Gay Love?

It’s been a really gay summer. I mean that in the best possible way.

The Summer of Gay Love, as I like to call it, began on May 9 when President Obama announced his approval of same-sex marriage. With 11 short words — “I think same-sex couples should be able to get married” — he became the first sitting U.S. president to publicly support gay marriage.

Obama’s endorsement is largely symbolic as he doesn't plan to pursue new U.S. policy on gay marriage, but no one can deny that his support is a big, gay deal.

The next thing to catch my eye was Oreo’s rainbow cookie advertisement supporting gay pride. Posted to the Oreo Facebook page on June 25, the image created immediate and intense reaction on social media sites.

Many believed it was an advertisement for an actual 6-layer rainbow filled cookie, although Oreo has no plans to produce such a treat. Haters threatened to boycott Oreo for life, while supporters pledged their allegiance and some even petitioned them to make the cookie.

Just a few days after the Oreo debacle, journalist and television show host Anderson Cooper came out. Many had long suspected he was gay, but he never publicly addressed his sexual orientation. On July 2 he sent a coming out email to Andrew Sullivan, author of The Dish blog, and encouraged Sullivan to share the email with his readers. Cooper wrote, "The fact is, I'm gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn't be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud."

It probably didn't surprise many, but it was still significant. If you think it's easy to come out when you're constantly in the public eye, just ask Ricky Martin why it took him so long. Or better yet, ask Ryan Seacrest what the hold up is.

Just two weeks ago, the Jim Henson Company made headlines when they pulled their toys from kid's meals at Chick-fil-A fast food chains. When Chick-fil-A president Don Cathy was asked about the company's official stance on same-sex marriage, Cathy said, “We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit ... I think we are inviting God's judgement on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.'"

The company has reportedly donated millions of dollars to anti-gay Christian groups over the years.
Lisa Henson, CEO of the Jim Henson Company, supports marriage equality and decided to end their relationship with Chick-fil-A on July 20. Now queer activists are planning pride events and kiss-ins at Chick-fil-A restaurants across the U.S.

It seems as though it's no longer acceptable to publicly state that you, or your company, are anti-gay. I don't doubt that Chick-fil-A gained some supporters due to their stance on marriage, but the tide seems in favor of companies like Oreo and Jim Henson Co., who I think will gain more lovers than haters by waving the rainbow flag.

And that makes sense, because that's the direction the world is going in general. The Netherlands was the first country to legalize same-sex marriage in 2001, and since then 10 other countries have followed suit. Same sex relationships are becoming increasingly accepted - in 2012 Americans' support for the moral acceptability of gay and lesbian relationships passed the 50% mark. So if you're going to publicly hate on a large demographic that the majority of North Americans now accept for who they are, then you better be ready for a battle.

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