Queer ads for the straight cads.

The Ad Guys 

Queer ads for the straight cads.

In the foreground of the picture are hastily thrown-off shoes, pants and T-shirts; behind them, a fuzzy, indistinguishable twosome in bed. Above the image floats a sentence: "You were more concerned with taking them off than folding them up."

The next page reads "It's 10:00 a.m. Saturday morning. You're meeting friends for brunch in an hour. And your khakis -- which spent the night crumpled on the floor -- are looking a little too 'casual' ... Now for the good news."

The good news was that Procter & Gamble was introducing Downy Wrinkle Releaser, a spray that would transform its users from sloppy to smashing in seconds. The bad news? The couple in the sack consisted of two men. And the American Family Association was pissed.

The ad was archived on the Web site for the Commercial Closet Association, a nonprofit that works to improve images of gay and lesbian people in advertising. Over the first weekend in October, Commercial www.commercialcloset.org crashed because of the enormous number of hits from the AFA. And now, says Commercial Closet founder Michael Wilke, "Those right-wing crazies down in Mississippi are boycotting Procter & Gamble.

"The irony is that the ad is four years old and it only ran once -- in Canada -- but that was at the top of their list of reasons for the boycott," he adds.

Reactions like this drive Wilke's mission. A Kansas City native who now lives in New York, he travels the country giving a video lecture that analyzes the way mainstream commercials represent (and exploit) gays and lesbians using classic stereotypes and homophobia.

He's quick to point out the difference between Commercial Closet and organizations such as GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), which, among other things, works to make TV and films gay-friendly. "From our perspective, people who choose gay-friendly films and TV are selecting them because they already are gay or gay-friendly," Wilke explains. "Advertising reaches the unconverted."

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