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Have you ever wondered how we got to where we are today with gay rights?

Stewart Cowan of Realstreet, a UK blog, provides a revealing link in a comment beneath his recent post on gay pride.   I’d not seen this before, but if you are familiar with Defending the Family you may have run across it.

The paper is entitled ‘The Overhauling of Straight America: Waging Peace, Part Two’ and appears to have appeared in the November 1987 edition of Guide magazine (the gay one, not the Seventh-Day Adventist one).  It’s a marketing plan designed to desensitise homosexuality in America.  This is a must-read.  If you were alive 23 years ago, think back from that point to now and you will be amazed at how much has taken place in this campaign since then.  Also reflect on how much has changed in your churches since then with regard to this topic.

Below are excerpts (emphases mine) of the six-point plan:

(1) Talk about gays and gayness as loudly and as often as possible. The principle behind this advice is simple: almost any behavior begins to look normal if you are exposed to enough of it at close quarters and among your acquaintances. The acceptability of the new behavior will ultimately hinge on the number of one’s fellows doing it or accepting it. One may be offended by its novelty at first — many, in times past, were momentarily scandalized by “streaking,” eating goldfish, and premarital sex. But as long as Joe Sixpack feels little pressure to perform likewise, and as long as the behavior in question presents little threat to his physical and financial security, he soon gets used to it and life goes on. The skeptic may still shake his head and think “people are crazy these days,” but over time his objections are likely to become more reflective, more philosophical, less emotional.
 

(2) Portray gays as victims, not as aggressive challengers. In any campaign to win over the public, gays must be cast as victims in need of protection so that straights will be inclined … to assume the role of protector. If gays are presented, instead, as a strong and prideful tribe promoting a rigidly nonconformist and deviant lifestyle, they are more likely to be seem as a public menace that justifies resistance and oppression. For that reason, we must forego the temptation to strut our “gay pride” publicly when it conflicts with the Gay Victim image. And we must walk the fine line between impressing straights with our great numbers, on the one hand, and sparking their hostile paranoia — “They are all around us!” — on the other …

(3) Give protectors a just cause. A media campaign that casts gays as society’s victims and encourages straights to be their protectors must make it easier for those who respond to assert and explain their new perspectives. Few straight women, and even fewer straight men, will want to defend homosexuality boldly as such. Most would rather attach their awakened protective impulse to some principle of justice or law, to some general desire for consistent and fair treatment in society. Our campaign should not demand direct support for homosexual practices, but should instead take anti-discrimination as its theme. The right to free speech freedom of beliefs, freedom of association, due process and equal protection of laws — these should be the concerns brought to mind by our campaign

(4) Make gays look good. In order to make a Gay Victim sympathetic to straights you have to portray him as Everyman. But an additional theme of the campaign should be more aggressive and upbeat: to offset the increasingly bad press that these times have brought to homosexual men and women, the campaign should paint gays as superior pillars of society. Yes, yes, we know — this trick is so old it creaks. Other minorities use it all the time in ads that announce proudly, “Did you know that this Great Man (or Woman) was ________?” But the message is vital for all those straights who still picture gays as “queer” people — shadowy, lonesome, frail, drunken, suicidal, child-snatching misfits …

(5) Make the victimizers look bad. At a later stage of the media campaign for gay rights — long after other gay ads have become commonplace — it will be time to get tough with remaining opponents. To be blunt, they must be vilified. (This will be all the more necessary because, by that time, the entrenched enemy will have quadrupled its output of vitriol and disinformation.) Our goal here is twofold. First, we work to replace the mainstream’s self-righteous pride about its homophobia with shame and guilt.  Second, we intend to make the anti-gays look so nasty that average Americans will want to dissociate themselves from such types

(6) Solicit funds: the bucks stop here. Any massive campaign of this kind would require unprecedented expenditures for months or even years — an unprecedented fundraising drive.

Clever, wouldn’t you say?  Nothing in the realm of marketing and media happens by accident.

Excerpts show how this one has been working:

Without access to TV, radio, and the mainstream press, there will be no campaign. This is a tricky problem, because many impresarios of the media simply refuse to accept what they call “issue-advertising” — persuasive advertising can provoke a storm of resentment from the public and from sponsors, which is bad for business. The courts have confirmed the broadcaster’s right to refuse any “issue advertising” he dislikes …

… remember that the press, for the most part, is only read by better educated Americans, many of whom are already more accepting of homosexuality in any case. So to get more impact for our dollars, we should skip the New Republic and New Left Review readers and head for Time, People, and the National Enquirer. (Of course, the gay community may have to establish itself as a regular advertising presence in more sophisticated forums first before it is accepted into the mass press).

Excerpted below are the various stages involved:

Visual Stage 1: You Really Oughta Be in Pictures

As for television and radio, a more elaborate plan may be needed to break the ice. For openers, naturally, we must continue to encourage the appearance of favorable gay characters in films and TV shows. Daytime talk shows also remain a useful avenue for exposure …

Visual 2: Peekaboo Advertising

At this point the gay community has its foot in the door, and it is time to ask the networks to accept gay sponsorship of certain ads and shows. Timing is critical: the request must be made immediately after our national political ads disappear. Failing that, we should request sponsorship the next time one of our networks struts its broad-mindedness by televising a film or show with gay characters or themes. If they wish to look consistent instead of hypocritical, we’ll have them on the spot …

Visual Stage 2: Roll Out the Big Game

By this point, our salami tactics will have carved out, slice by slice, a large portion of access to the mainstream media. So what then? It would finally be time to bring gay ads out of the closet. The messages of such ads should directly address lingering public fears about homosexuals as loathsome and contrary aliens …

The plan concludes with these words:

We have sketched out here a blueprint for transforming the social values of straight America. At the core of our program is a media campaign to change the way the average citizens view homosexuality

And, let us repeat, time may be running out. The AIDS epidemic is sparking anger and fear in the heartland of straight America. As the virus leaks out of homosexual circles and into the rest of society, we need to have no illusions about who is receiving the blame. The ten years ahead may decide for the next forty whether gays claim their liberty and equality or are driven back, once again, as America’s cause of detested untouchables. It’s more than a quip: speak now or forever hold your peace.

And that is how a marketing campaign works — messaging (as it is called) which includes a lot of emotional rhetoric and just a little fact goes a long way.  Please be sure to read the document in full, especially for the proposed advertising storylines.

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