Friday, October 27, 2006

MediaLife Magazine: Gay bus ad raises a stink

Boys on the bus: Gay ad raises a stink
By Diego Vasquez, Media Life Magazine

In Minneapolis last week there was controversy over a bus ad for a gay-themed magazine, but it wasn't over whether the ad was offensive to the community, as might have been the case a decade ago.
It was over a bus driver who was objecting to driving the bus with the ad on the exterior, on the grounds that the ad was in conflict with her religious beliefs. She took her case to her bosses.

The ad, for a magazine called Lavender, contained the slogan “Unleash Your Inner Gay.” Metro Transit, which runs the city’s buses, initially sided with the driver. It sent out a memo to the garage stating that she’s not to be assigned to any of the 25 buses that carried the ad.

But then the Star Tribune caught wind of the story and reported it. A lot of locals were offended.
“After the story was published, we heard from a number of customers that said it appeared MTC was intolerant of different viewpoints and not effectively understanding that we serve a diverse population,” says spokesperson Bob Gibbons.

Last week the ads, part of a month-long campaign, came down, but the controversy did not subside. Metro Transit, reconsidering the matter and the public reaction, rescinded its decision to exempt the driver from driving buses with ads that offended her beliefs.

“As it stands now, if the circumstance was the same, we’d be reluctant to make an accommodation,” Gibbons says. “It’s not related at all to the advertising policy. Advertising has to be evaluated on its content, and there’s nothing in that ad that compromised our policy.”