Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Gay Pride!

Gay Pride Day was celebrated just last week, on June 25, and I found a very interesting Oreo graphic that the brand posted on their Facebook page. The ad simply had two Oreo biscuits filled with six layers of rainbow coloured icing celebrating homosexuality. The graphic drew more than 52,000 shares and 177,000 likes in 24 hours, sparking an online debate which translates into free adverting for Kraft Foods (the parent company of Nabisco), which introduced America's best-selling cookie in 1912.

I, for one, thought this was a brilliant campaign and it was nice to see how strong international brands could leverage their popularity for promoting a cause. Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres tweeted “As if I needed another reason to love Oreo”. Another user on the fan page commented “I never liked Oreo cookies. But I’m going to start eating them henceforth.” While the ad received a lot of positive response from the public in general, the backlash it received was immense as well. Many called for a boycott of the product.

"This is absolutely disgusting. Your attempt to 'normalize' the behaviour of homosexuals has cost you a customer," one commenter wrote.
"Disliked Oreo page just because of this one post. Think about how much business you just killed, Oreo,” wrote another. “I can't support a business that supports gays.”

A "Boycott Oreo" Facebook page sprung up just the day after the image. The creator of the page wrote: "No. I do *not* hate gay people. I am not a ‘homophobe’ "I am against the lifestyle choice, however. It goes against Biblical principles and against how nature intended. That being said, I refuse to support the lifestyle or what Oreo/Kraft is doing. So I have decided to not buy their products."

The Oreo graphic that sparked controversy

Oreo is not the first brand to face such backlash from the public. Target, American Apparel and Starbucks are just three other corporations which were faced with anti-gay boycotts after either publicly endorsing LGBT rights themselves or releasing special products which did so. And oh, J.C. Penney, which has been condemned at least three times this year alone after hiring Ellen DeGeneres as their spokesperson and featuring same-sex couples in Mother's Day and Father's Day catalogues respectively.

What I absolutely fail to understand is, that how can such idiots actually exist in 2012? We talk about leaving a better planet to children, we’re becoming freakily vegan and switching to organic diets, we’re taking up causes and fighting for them, we’re volunteering to help at hospitals and the homeless, we’re teaching the illiterate. Yet we’re so fucking backward in our thinking that we simply cannot accept how homosexuality is simply a way of life.

We can’t deal with gay people. Gay people make us uncomfortable. Why the fuck are so many among us wired this way? We are okay with short-lived marriages like those of Britney Spears that lasted less than 60 hours (I’m not even sure if we can call that a marriage) and okay with the fact that divorce rates are climbing steadily everyday. Yet, we have something stuck up our ass when it comes to legalizing gay marriages or letting a gay couple adopt children.

A lot of couples tend to have children as ‘accidents’. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t condemn straight couples. Neither does that mean these couples love their children any lesser. Gay couples are not blessed that easily to be able to have children as simple ‘accidents’. Firstly, openly admitting you’re gay is hard, for all the possible ridicule you might face. Second, finding your true love in another partner is hard. Some families even disown their children if they learn about their homosexual relationships. Thirdly, when these gay couples decide to have children, it’s because they really WANT to. They’ve had it tough so far and want the opportunity to be good fathers/mothers to their children. Because of the fact that they’re gay, their paperwork is extensive when they decide to adopt. There is a lot more running around to do. There is a lot more work and effort required. In the process, they might be discriminated against because they are a gay couple. And they’re willing to undergo all of this so that they could be parents to a child. Yet, the fucked up society has to act like being gay is a sin and being a gay parent even more so.

I’m not asking people to be staunch activists or create support groups for gay people. Merely treating them as equals and not discriminating against them is a great step to start with. Why do we have to stare and point like they don’t belong? Why do we have to use the word ‘gay’ as a way of insulting or offending someone? Why are we so uncomfortable and stuck up with the idea of accepting gay people as one of our own?

I’m not gay, neither am I a gay right activist, but I do believe that one should simply live and let live. I don’t think it’s my fucking birthright to tell people how they should live, whom should they live with, etc. I just think this should be a fair world to be in and people should live however they want to. No one should decide upon certain ways to live just because a holy book or your stupid societal rules tell you so.

You don’t have to be gay to support gay rights. You just need to be human.


Anonymous said...

Just like one doesn't need to be a woman to support women's rights either. Or an animal to support animal rights.

Actually we should get rid of these terminologies and just talk about "rights and dignity" for everyone.

Agratha Dinakaran said...

I agree completely, Bhagwad. After this post, I've already received a few mails from people asking me if I was a closet homosexual. All because I've opined that everyone be treated equal.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that certain people can't even believe that you can fight for someone else's rights without a hidden agenda.

Interesting...and sad too.

Abhimanyu.Mongandh Ambalath said...

Old post but nevertheless, the fact I don't like about these commercials is that more often than not it is the result of a well calculated market expectation than genuine support.
1.Oreo knows that 95%of the population is in support of it.
2. The rest of the idiotic 5%will generate enough traffic so that any loose from them is more than gained back in additional publicity.

But then I think I should come to terms with how the market fundamentally works.

Agratha Dinakaran said...

95% would be quite a large number, considering many parts of America is still strongly religious and completely believe that being gay goes against what the Bible says.
You might be right about it being a calculated marketing initiative, but some brands do genuinely support LGBTQ rights, and maybe want to support the communities and/or represent them. Either way, I see it as a wonderful initiative, genuine or not.
In fact, when brands in India started sharing creatives after the #Sec377 verdict came out, I was highly impressed. Tanishq, Amul, Hidesign, etc. acted on it and I thought it was nice of them to do so. It represents an oppressed and a discriminated community, and I think they can use all the support they can get. :)

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