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Contact: Bruce H. Joffe
Telephone: 540.429.1869
E-Mail: bjoffe@mbc.edu

for immediate release

Homosexuality Depicted in Early American Advertising; Print Ads Embedded with 'Gay' and Homoerotic Imagery, Says Scholar

STAUNTON, VA— A new book asserts that ideas about homosexuality can be traced in print advertisements appearing in American periodicals from as far back as a century ago.

A Hint of Homosexuality? 'Gay' and Homoerotic Imagery in American Print Advertising by Bruce H. Joffe (Xlibris, $19.95) begins with this rather rhetorical question: "Can non-normative sexuality -- sexual identity -- and even, to a degree, sexual behavior -- be presented in advertising, not in today's more libertine environment but during the years when the mere mention of homosexuality — the love that dare not speak its name — was verboten, taboo, even illegal?"

According to Joffe, the answer is obviously (a qualified) yes.

"Well before the June 1969 Stonewall riots threw open the closet doors to unleash and proclaim an unmistakable gay mantra, myriad clues -- some subliminal, others overt -- clearly ingrained the notion of homosexuality in American advertisements appearing on the pages of general interest, mass market periodicals," he maintains.

The author examines a variety of trends, themes and advertising campaigns that, he contends, support a basis for believing romantic and/or sexual interest between members of the same sex appeared in ads published by American newspapers and magazines.

Explicit or implied, impressions of homosexuality in more than 225 advertisements published by major manufacturers, retailers, companies and well-known brands over the past hundred years or so are chronicled and assessed by Joffe.

Some same-sex ads are "strangely erotic while others may be silly caricatures, more burlesque than bizarre," he holds. By and large, however, "most tend to be snapshots of the male (and, to a lesser extent, female) convivial spirit encountered and observed in intimate conditions and circumstances."

Hedonistically intertwined with homoerotic connections are advertising themes such as vanity, virility, and carnal pleasure.

Joffe says: "Gay intimacy and interaction, references to the male genitalia, and threats of sexual conquest by and between men can be seen in advertisements created by some of the greatest illustrators, designers and copywriters of the twentieth century."

And, although the images reflected in their advertising mirror are fewer and farther between, "women who prefer the company of other women similarly have been goosed and gandered by Madison Avenue," the author argues in a chapter dedicated to lesbians.

"Whoever they are and whatever they're doing, it's apparent these advertisements are provocative and homoerotic because — at the very least — displays of affection and intimacy between and among people of the same sex can be inferred."

A professor of communication at Mary Baldwin College (Staunton, VA) and earlier at George Mason University (Fairfax, VA) who's focused on gay and lesbian studies, Joffe says that he's tried to temper his academic research with a more popular voice.

"Many people would love to see these fabulous ads reproduced as a full-color coffee table book," he shares. "Unfortunately, budgets for those kinds of volumes rarely target niche markets such as this."

A Hint of Homosexuality? (Trade Paperback ISBN 978-1-4257-6466-1; also published in hard cover: ISBN 978-1-4257-6510-1) is available from all online booksellers, as well as Baker & Taylor, Ingram, and other agents supplying books to libraries and colleges.

Author royalties from this book will benefit the Commercial Closet Association, a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization working to influence the world of advertising to understand, respect and include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) references to achieve a more accepting society while achieving successful business results.

An excerpt is posted at www.xlibris.com/bookstore/bookdisplay.asp? bookid=40500 in the Xlibris online bookstore, where the book can be ordered at a 15% discount.

For more information, to request a review copy, or to schedule an interview, please contact the author directly: bjoffe@mbc.edu.

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Bruce H. Joffe, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Communication
Academic Advisor, Adult Degree Program
Mary Baldwin College
404 Locust Street
Staunton, VA 24401
(Home) 540.885.0256
(Cell) 540.429.1869
E-Mail: bhjoffe@comcast.net
Or: bjoffe@mbc.edu

PDF Image of Book Cover


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