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Coming out of the Closet

Exploring LGBT Issues in Strategic Communication with Theory and Research

Edited By Natalie T.J. Tindall and Richard D. Waters

Despite representing significant portions of the advertising, marketing, and public relations work force, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) community has largely been ignored by scholarly research in strategic communications. With the exception of case studies that document strategies that can be used to secure the LGBT consumer dollar, little has been done to understand the LGBT community’s experiences with strategic communications efforts. This edited volume fills this gap by sharing research on the impact and interaction of campaigns and programming from advertising, marketing, and public relations on internal (e.g., practitioners and employees) and external (e.g., consumers, activists) stakeholders from the LGBT community. Several chapters in this volume highlight a significant change in the focus of strategic communications that recognizes the long-term benefits of having legitimate partnerships; others, however, counter this optimistic trend by discussing the continued struggles of practitioners working in strategic communication and the LGBT community at large.
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Chapter 9: Gaffes, Glitches, and Gays: How Organizations Respond to LGBT Crises


Brenda J. Wrigley

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) lives were at one point in history within the realm of sexual perversion, deviance, and medical pathology. Eventually, “dissenting views emerged in the medical and social science communities, moral standards changed after World War II, and the gay rights movement appeared in the 1960s” (Harris, 2003, p. 489). Attempts to correct misconceptions and deconstruct stereotypes in an understanding of sexual orientation, gender identity, and equality have led to changes in policy and social institutions. Most notably, Maryland, Washington, and New York have joined Washington, DC, New Hampshire, Vermont, Iowa, Massachusetts, and Connecticut as the only places in the United States allowing same-sex marriage, while 30 states have banned gay marriage.

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), an organization dedicated to “promoting and ensuring fair, accurate and inclusive representation of people and events in the media as a means of eliminating homophobia and discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation,” notes a significant evolution in the understanding and acceptance of LGBTQ lives in America over the past two decades (GLAAD, “Mission Statement,” 2010). GLAAD suggests that, “increasingly fair, accurate and inclusive news media coverage has played an important role in expanding public awareness and understanding” of LGBTQ lives; however, “many reporters, editors and producers continue to face challenges covering these issues in a complex, often rhetorically charged climate” (GLAAD, “Media Reference Guide,” 2010).

Many organizations failed to acknowledge the cultural shift. Some...

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