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Monday, March 6, 2023


You go fishing for fish - you need fish hooks and a selection of live bait. You go fishing for LGBTQ compliments and appreciation - you need well-thought marketing tactics… and some more fishing lures. Just a couple of years ago, exploiting the community for the benefit of media and business companies didn’t seem to be that big of a problem, because if you could sell a million more soda drinks to queer folks just because the rainbow colors were on the cans, then what was wrong with it! However, with time, queerbaiting has become an issue of concern because even politicians found it to be a subtle, yet effective way to channel homophobia and use it to their advantage. Just recently, UEFA rejected the proposal of the mayor of Munich to illuminate Allianz Arena Stadium with the colors of the rainbow for the European football championship on the grounds that the request was motivated by the political decision taken by the Hungarian parliament to ban the dissemination of content homosexuality promoting in schools. How come the Union of European Football Association caught Munich’s public administration in queer baiting, and is it indeed that simple to identify a sinister ploy in any given marketing technique or political decision? Here are some signs that someone or something is queerbaiting.


Simply put, queer baiting in TV and film is when they give you a close-up of Stiles and Derek from Teen Wolf and you think they are about to finally kiss, but they don’t. If we have to put it in a more refined way, queer baiting is when they suggest queerness but don’t follow through. The character is made to behave in a manner that is acting like a tranquilizing pill to both the queer audience and the queerphobic one, but at some point, the character starts showing signs of attraction towards another person of the same gender. And just when the queer spectator is a step away from identifying with the character, the scriptwriters pull out the bait by involving the character in a straight relationship. Sorry, pal, your ice cream has just melted down to a sad pond of sweet vanilla!


Queerbaiting in advertising is not a day-old food. It’s been here since the early 1990s. Remember the Subaru ad campaign from that era? The brand’s marketers did their own research into the gay market, and were very much hoping to break through with queer women by selling cars with coded license plates like “Xena LVR” and “P-Town.” The art of queerbaiting in business has significantly evolved in the last decade, and now, it’s just absolutely everywhere. You can’t see an ad for a simple peanut without the rainbow colors on the background! If that’s not fishing for approval AND profit, I don’t know what else is!

A huge percent of the biggest US companies are bold enough to directly target LGBTQ consumers. Nike’s groundbreaking marketing tactic was to tell the story of the first openly trans athlete, Chris Moiser. Clean&Clear followed by making trans youths the focus of their ads. We don’t doubt that most of these companies sincerely embrace the idea of inclusiveness, but the primal reason behind such marketing strategies is that they simply want the LGBTQ’s $4 trillion purchasing power. That’s why we expect for more and more such ad campaigns in the future.


Not one and two straight celebrities have been recently accused of queerbaiting and made publicly apologize in the media. Female celebs face more often backlash for their faux-pas, while guys, on the contrary, are applauded for embracing sexual fluidity and implementing it in their looks and performances. One possible reason why females are so mercilessly attacked for challenging sexual norms is that the audience holds them on a higher pedestal, hence a higher standard. The problem with these artists is not that they often depict queer relationships, but that they don’t really go “all the way” with it. They fail in explicitly expressing a queer identity and rarely show lasting support of the queer community.

If you still need a tip on how to navigate queerbaiting, here is the simplest rule: If they are not gay and they are doing something gay as a marketing tactic, it’s most probably queerbaiting. Sorry, Cavin Klein!


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