One of the best ways to encourage more open communication about sexually transmitted disease (STD) prevention, and sexual health in general, is to eliminate the stigma surrounding these topics and that of sexual orientation. Our society has come a long way toward accepting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals, but more work still needs to be done.
Recent research from the University of Miami has found that in the past ten years there has been a dramatic increase in images of gays in American advertising, and that this may be partially responsible for re-defining the meaning of homosexuality in society and the way this population is perceived. According to scientists, advertisers need to take this into consideration when they are planning their campaigns.
“In other words, when marketers argue that no matter who they target, ‘It’s just business,’ their marketing messages actually have broader, cultural impacts on the minority community,” said researcher Wan-Hsiu Sunny Tsai.
Researchers asked 25 gay and lesbian people to observe 10 to 15 commercials that “exemplified dominant gay and lesbian portrayals.” The scientists then asked study participants to analyze these ads and offer opinions. They found that this population believes that these ads are an important step in the LGBT community being recognized as consumers who are contributing to the economy. Even when the ads were showing stereotypical portrayals, the study participants still viewed them in a positive light. “I was ambivalent when watching this commercial. It’s playing up the stereotype. But for me, if you can see gay people on TV in Texas, it’s positive,” one participant said. Researchers say that the next step is to determine if political ads aimed at the LGBT community would be effective in encouraging acceptance of this population and helping them feel included.