What Do Gap Ads Really Say About Gay Love?
Gap has a new ad campaign. It’s for t-shirts, and (like most ad campaigns) it’s telling you what to be. Be you, be true, be cool, be somebody with a little cash to spend and the basic human need to accrue stuff, thereby affirming your own existence. I’m sure Gap has placed these posters and billboards at hundreds of thousands of strategic points across our great nation, and that they all feature a wide variety of luminous, fresh-faced folks of various racial backgrounds (if not waist measurements) selling the same shirts in the same ways. But I’ve only seen two, and the two I saw today in the Walnut/Locust SEPTA station seemed to me, in many ways, unique.
The ads are side by side, and both have the same caption: “Be one.” The photo on the right is of a handsome white man nuzzling the face of a beautiful Asian-looking woman, their heads snuggled together inside the neck of a single t-shirt; the picture on the left is of two equally beautiful white men similarly sharing one t-shirt, their cheeks pressed tight together, their lips parted slightly.
I spent about 20 minutes—the rest of the train ride and the whole walk home—trying to figure out when the last time was that I’d seen a mainstream advertisement so prominently feature a homosexual relationship. I came up with nothing. Yet it’s there, it’s all over Walnut/Locust, you can see for yourself: Gap has put two beautiful fellows in a shirt together on a poster in our city, in front of Ben Franklin and everybody, and declared them one. And I am, overall elated. I am also a bit depressed.