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Coming out of the Closet

Exploring LGBT Issues in Strategic Communication with Theory and Research

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 15: From Unspeakable to Homosexual to Gay to LGBT: The Evolution of Research on Marketing’s Most Controversial Market Segment


Laurie M. Phillips

The juxtaposition of Advertising Age’s article, “Why (and How) You Should Go After the Gay Dollar” (B. Johnson, 2010), and earlier articles proclaiming that a gay market was nonexistent (Baltera, 1975) exhibits significant changes over the past four decades. The trade press is not alone in its claims of market viability, as evidenced by the number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) strategic communication firms; growth in gay and lesbian (G/L) press advertising expenditures; and the multitude of advertising-supported LGBT media outlets.

Between 1996 and 2009, LGBT print media ad revenue grew by 377%, and national magazines’ imagery changed dramatically. By 2009, 87.7% of all advertisements were G/L-specific, the majority featuring national brands (2009 Gay Press Report, 2010). Marketers targeting LGBT audiences no longer solely rely upon print media. Numerous LGBT-targeted media outlets exist today, including a national cable channel (Logo), a satellite radio station (Sirius OutQ), and countless online media outlets. The increasing popularity of mainstream television shows featuring prominent LGBT characters offers additional outlets (Streitmatter, 2009).

Buying power is another key consideration for marketers. Estimated at $790 billion in 2012 (Toce, 2012), LGBT buying power is comparable to other ethnic minority groups (Humphreys, 2009). Whereas Selig Center estimates for minority groups include consumers of all ages, LGBT estimates are limited to self-identified adults. ← 220 | 221 →

As press coverage of the LGBT market intensified in the early 1990s so did academic research. Through an in-depth literature review,...

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