Monday, November 27, 2006

PinkNews: MTV Awarded for Gay-Friendly Ads

According to this article on PinkNews, Europe's largest GLBT newswire, MTV and were honored for their gay-friendly ads. Here's the full story:

MTV awarded for gay-friendly advertising
22-November-2006 writer

MTV Networks and were recognised for “inclusive excellence in portrayals of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals” in their promotional advertising during the Commercial Closet Association's Second Annual Corporate Visionary Honours event, held this week at The New York Times’ historic, 93-year-old building.

For over a decade, MTV Networks has aired groundbreaking LGBT portrayals in its promotional advertising, and has served as a primary media outlet for other advertisers to do the same.

Since 2001, ( has made humorously inclusive LGBT portrayals a central part of its advertising to both gay and straight audiences.

Michael Wilke, founding executive director of Commercial Closet Association, said: "We applaud MTV Networks and for their ground-breaking and long-standing commitments to inclusiveness and portrayals of LGBT individuals in advertising—they provide an important model for corporate advertisers."

Cyndi Lauper presented the honours for LGBT inclusive advertising to Lisa Sherman, Senior Vice President and General Manager of MTV Networks' LOGO, and Randy Susan Wagner, Chief Marketing Officer, Orbitz Worldwide, a division of Travelport.

The event also marked the five-year anniversary of Commercial Closet Association.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006 Nissan & Infiniti now gay-friendly

According to, Nissan and Infiniti are now considered gay-friendly car brands. Here's the story from their website:

Nissan and Infiniti are Gay-Friendly Adds Two Additional Car Brands to Gay-Friendly List

ATLANTA, GA –, the only website designed for the GLBT automotive consumer, has updated its listing of gay-friendly car companies to include two brands previously on its non-gay-friendly list – Nissan and Infiniti. Both brands are sold in the U.S. by Nissan North America (NNA) who recently announced they would be offering domestic partner benefits to all of their U.S. employees.

“We are ecstatic that Nissan North America has rolled out their domestic-partner benefits to all of their U.S. employees,” said Joe LaMuraglia, publisher of and former employee of NNA. “I was fortunate enough to be part of the team that got the ball rolling and began the campaign to push for domestic partner benefits for GLBT employees at Nissan. I commend the employees still there who kept the dream alive and followed this through to completion.”

Nissan will be offering domestic partner benefits to their U.S.-based employees as of January 1, 2007. Employees in the sales and marketing division of the company have enjoyed domestic partnership health insurance and car benefits since January, 2006. The latest addition includes the manufacturing arm of the company, which employs the vast majority of Nissan’s U.S. workers.

“The addition of Nissan and Infiniti to the gay-friendly list is an example of how a few people can affect change,” LaMuraglia emphasized. “If the employees at Nissan hadn’t worked together to bring this important issue to the attention of management, GLBT employees at the company might still be without equal benefits.”

The addition of Nissan and Infiniti to the gay-friendly list brings the number of gay-friendly brands to 32. That leaves only 14 car brands remaining on the non-gay-friendly list, or still “under investigation.”

The updated gay-friendly list is featured on a completely redesigned site designed to be easier to use and more visually appealing. Virtually every new car, SUV and light truck model for sale in the U.S. is summarized on with photos, prices, safety information, driving impressions and a detailed description. also features original new-vehicle reviews by gay automotive writers, advice and recommendations on vehicle purchasing, financing and insurance. is dedicated to promoting responsible consumerism and affecting change by encouraging car shoppers to patronize gay-friendly companies throughout the vehicle purchase process. Users of the site are able to investigate which automakers and other automotive companies offer domestic partner benefits to their employees, thus qualifying them as “gay-friendly.” With that information at hand, they can make educated choices during the car-buying process. launched in June 2005 as the consummate gay-friendly automotive resource.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Marketing to Gay Seniors

Marketers across all disciplines are looking to aging and retiring baby boomers and wondering "how can we reach this market?" The portrayal of older people in advertising has changed from blue-haired grannies to sassy ladies who like to hang ten.

There's also a tremendous marketing opportunity within the aging GLBT community. We've seen a number of GLBT-oriented retirement communities crop up in recent years. Here's one of many stories on the subject:

Gay seniors find a home of their own
By RANDY MYERS/MediaNews GroupVallejo Times Herald

After 25 years of social activism, 59-year-old Brenda Crawford relishes the prospect of handing over the torch to a youthful crusader.

When she and her partner sell their Vallejo home within the next five years, they expect to move to a planned posh retirement community for lesbians and gays. The $85 million Fountaingrove Lodge in Santa Rosa is expected to open in the winter of 2008 or 2009.

The African-American woman said they chose Fountaingrove because of its country setting and commitment to racial diversity. "It doesn't have that elitist attitude of Palm Springs," she said.
Fountaingrove hardly represents an anomaly in senior housing. The booming industry finds itself tailoring housing needs to meet demands of baby boomers, people shaped equally by the "me generation" and the civil rights movement.

For some boomers, that means discovering a community oriented to one's sexuality. For others, it means a complex specializing in a particular ethnicity or activity.

Crawford prefers living in a place where neighbors won't arch an eyebrow when they discover her partner is a woman 16 years her junior.

"I don't think I would consider going into a center that was not (gay-focused) simply because I need to leave that fight to somebody who's younger," she said. "I don't want, at 60, to be worried about walking out of my door and not having people say hello to me."

At Fountaingrove, the people next door would be more likely to invite them over to watch "The L Word."

From the titles lining library shelves to the singers and authors who will be invited to appear, Fountaingrove plans to cater to gay and lesbian interests.

"They want (singer) Holly Near performing," Winter says. "They want Dorothy Allison ('Bastard Out of Carolina') doing a book reading when her next book comes out."

A demand exists for a place such as Fountaingrove. As many as 3 million gays and lesbians are older than 65, a group that's expected to swell to 4 million by 2030, according to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Expect more individualized communities to pop up as the stampede of baby boomers transform into golden girls and boys, said San Francisco State University gerontology professor Anabel Pelham.

Senior housing covers the gamut, including options such as specialists who direct seniors living on their own to resources they need, co-housing and "affinity" housing in which seniors with similar interests band together.

Pelham said the greatest demand remains for assisted living housing, which allows seniors to live independently while receiving basic services.

Fountaingrove will provide for people going through the stages of aging, from being independent to needing skilled care, said Wes Winter, senior marketing director.

Amenities planned include a wellness center, a pool, three restaurants, a bar, two gyms and a movie theater. Living spaces include cottages, apartments and flats among the 148 units.

Publicity has created buzz around the globe, Winter says. Some who have expressed interest reserved a bigger space than needed because they plan on meeting a partner while there, he adds.

Vallejo residents Thomas Huish and John Mathewson debated about moving to a community in New Mexico until spotting an ad for Fountaingrove in the Advocate, a national gay and lesbian magazine.

"I called right away," said Huish, 63. "We liked the whole package. It's got all the bells and whistles."

The couple have children from previous marriages and a strong network of friends in Vallejo, a city where a large population of gays and lesbians reside in an area of restored homes dubbed "Lavender Hill." Huish and Mathewson live elsewhere in the city.

"We have a fairly large community of friends in Vallejo some older, some younger," Huish said. "That will be hard to leave."

Fountaingrove joins the ranks of other gay-focused retirement communities that have sprung up or are planned in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Palm Springs and Santa Fe, N.M. The nonprofit Openhouse Project in San Francisco aims to create senior housing and services for all income levels of gays and lesbians.

Reasons vary on why gays and lesbians gravitate to gay retirement communities, but often it's because they want to be safe and social, Winter said.

"If you look at someone who is 70 or 80 now, maybe in their 60s I would guess that pretty close up to 100 percent of them went through some sort of physical or emotional violence over the years."

Not everyone can afford or wants to live in a community such as Fountaingrove. The steep entry fee, refundable to residents or heirs, ranges from $350,000 to $1 million. Monthly dues are $3,000 to $4,000. (Twenty percent of units will be set aside for affordable housing, Winter said.)

That's way beyond what 70-year-old Marvin Burrows of Hayward can afford. When his partner of 50-plus years died in 2005, the loss crippled him emotionally and financially.
The high school sweethearts discussed retiring to gay-friendly locales such as the Russian River or Palm Springs.

"We had heard so many horror stories about gay couples moving into facilities and not being able to be together," he said.

Burrows received none of his partner's pension and zero from Social Security because the federal government does not recognize same-sex partnerships.

His partner's life insurance policy wasn't large. At one time, Burrows feared he might wind up on the streets.

Then Frank Howell, another gay man who also had lost his partner, invited Burrows to move in.

Bleak financial outlooks might be more common than many would suspect. According to a survey of more than 1,300 gays and lesbians, income levels for San Francisco gays and lesbians mirror heterosexuals' incomes. The finding debunks perceptions that gays have disposable income to spare.

The Openhouse survey also found that in the 50-59 age group, almost 40 percent earned less than $39,000 annually. Twenty percent made less than $26,000.

Some gays and lesbians already in senior communities create their own groups within the framework of bigger ones. In the Rossmoor retirement community, George Ramas launched a men's group. About 80 belong to the club that calls itself Gaymoor.

A lesbian group called Lezmoor started in October. Four showed up at the first meeting.
Ramas shrugs off the idea of living in a community that primarily identifies as gay. "I like the diversity of everybody," he said. "I feel really comfortable here and have no problems."

Tuesday, November 07, 2006 Texas May Be Homophobic, But Not Dallas

An interesting piece that ran on the Gay Financial News website...

Texas May Be Homophobic, But Not Dallas

Dallas may seem like an unlikely place to extend the welcome mat to gay tourists. After all, the Bush-supporting state of Texas passed a gay marriage ban last year with an alarming 75% of the vote. To be sure, statewide, anti-gay rights sentiment rides high in the saddle.

But Dallas city leaders apparently believe in diversity, and have not only devoted a page of the city's tourism Web site to "Diverse Dallas," they've earmarked $50,000 a year of its $14 million budget to attract gay tourists.

What kind of Texas values are those?

The reason may be traced to two compelling facts, or as Deep Throat once famously whispered, "follow the money." First off, the Dallas area is home to about 120,000 gay or lesbian households. And, like more than a few city leaders from around the country, Dallas want a piece of the expansive gay spending dollar. Surveys show that gay tourists spend about 100 bucks more per day than their straight counterparts, and take 2-3 times as many trips a year.

In fact, a survey conducted this year by San Francisco-based Community Marketing Inc. ties Dallas with San Diego as the seventh top business destination for gay travelers.

Stats like that are liable to make almost any city interested in boosting tourism stand up and shout "yippee-kay-ya."

"Big D" is a diverse metropolitan area that "has left behind stereotypes of big-haired women and rowdy cowboys — unless you count sassy drag queens and strapping gay rodeo champs," touts the city's Web page devoted to the city's diversity efforts, which features images of same-sex couples enjoying the local sights.

"It's not about being politically correct, it's about being economically correct," Phillip Jones, president and CEO of the tourism bureau told the Associated Press.

The tourism bureau put up the Website this year, listing more than 20 gay-friendly hotels, shopping areas, tourist attractions and night clubs.

The effort is already paying dividends.

Last month, the Washington-based Family Pride Coalition, a gay family advocacy group, conducted its national conference in Dallas after the bureau made an in-house pitch at the organization's D.C. office.

The presentation worked, in spite of the fact that Dallas isn't readily thought of as a gay-friendly Mecca. Wooing the Family Pride conference was the bureau's biggest success so far, drawing rave reviews from attendees that boasted about 250 participants.

"I think it was an extraordinarily positive experience in that most of the participants found Dallas to be a warm, receptive inviting place for them," the group's Executive Director Jennifer Chrisler told AP.

The Family Pride experience is not an isolated one. According to the tourism bureau, 20 gay-oriented meetings have come to the city since the promotion began two years ago. Next year, six events are already scheduled including, naturally, a gay rodeo.

"I believe it's grown from no image to a positive image just in the last year to two years, and it's definitely been because of the efforts of the Convention & Visitors Bureau, their members and partners," Tom Nibbio, world membership and development manager at the Fort Lauderdale-based International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association told said to AP.

"In Texas and the Southwest, Dallas has sort of taken the lead. We're not going to be a national destination," Phillip Jones, president and CEO of the tourism bureau told the paper. But, says Jones, "were trying to position Dallas as an appealing destination for GLBT travelers."

It will surprise no one that groups that hope to suppress gay rights have been critical of the tourism campaign.

The Dallas-based Texas Eagle Forum, an off-shoot of the lobbying organization Eagle Forum, has been vociferous in their condemnation of the city's efforts. Like the Eagle Forum, which is lead by Phyllis Schlafly, an outspoken critic of women's rights as well as gay rights, the Texas Eagle Forum regularly lobbies against gay rights and led the fight against gay marriage in the state last year.

"If you are wanting families to move into the city of Dallas, are you going to show them such a promotion? I doubt it," said Cathie Adams, president of the group.

For their efforts, the tourism bureau apparently doesn't agree with the sentiments of the Texas Eagle Forum.

They want tourists. And they want tourists who spend a lot of money on travel.

Welcome gays and lesbians.