PHOTOS: The History of Gay Advertising (It’s Older Than You Think)

You won't be believe some of the homo-erotic moments that have made it into magazines over the years.

Over the past several months, major companies like Crate & Barrel, American Airlines and Amazon have released print and television ads that prominently feature LGBT couples — a move that has lit up the Internet with conversations about the progress being made in the advertising industry. To mark this advancement in attitude, Adweek has put together a chronological image gallery of ads that shows the sly ways companies have attempted to attract the queer community over the years. You may be surprised at some of the earlier offerings, like a highly provocative World War II-era Cannon Towels ad (above) that shows a bunch of muscle-y army guys bathing together in a lagoon, or a Schlitz beer ad that shows two men on a camping trip slipping away from their lady friends to have a private sip in the woods. 

How companies got away with such homo-charged advertising in those days, I’ll never know. But Adweek has a pretty solid theory about why it’s persisted: “LGBT consumers represent an estimated $790 billion in spending power.”

Below, I’ve attached a few of my favorites from Adweek’s 16-photo image gallery, including the Calvin Klein Marky Mark undies ad that all but threw a young me out of the closet and into every Target underwear aisle I could set my peepers on. You can see the rest of Adweek’s collection here.

World War II ad by gay illustrator J.C. Leyendecker.

Cannon Towel ad circa 1930s

1974, obviously.

1992

2007

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