Diageo, For the Last Time, It's Not A Lifestyle


This ad boldly takes a stand against a politically-charged phrase frequently used by anti-gay groups -- who call gay orientation a "lifestyle" and imply a sense of choice as a way of denying equal protection and civil rights.

Alcohol is by far the most crowded category in gay marketing, with over 40 brands jostling for attention. Perhaps the most consistent presence has been Seagram's Absolut vodka for over 17 years, but Miller Brewing Co. has also had a mixed presence in gay media since the mid-1970s. Somewhat impervious to early fears of criticism from religious conservatives that other marketers worried about, so-called "sin products" such as alcohol also had something no other marketers did before the 1990s – an easily quantifiable marketplace: gay bars. They didn't need to do research to find out how much gays purchased their products, they just looked at their sales.

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Christopher DeLeo
In 1985 I asked an uncle in Fresno if I could stay with him for a time as I wanted to move from Boston and establish residency in California for school. He told me that I could not, that it would "interfere with his lifestyle." After the conversation I went to my mother and asked her if Uncle Jim was gay. She was shocked, and told me he was. She was shocked, not because he was gay, because she couldn't understand how I knew. I told her what he had said and informed her that the only people I knew who had a "lifestyle" were my gay and lesbian friends. By the way, I moved to California anyway and Ma came out in 1999! As for the ad, I never considered the use of the term "lifestyle" as indicating that gays or lesbians make a choice about their sexuality. How they express their sexuality, perhaps, but not the essential nature of who they are sexually. However, I understand that many people in this country are not quite as fortunate to have actually known the gay people that they know are gay so the distinction for them may be somewhat necessary.