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Out of the Closet and into the Marketplace: Meeting Basic Needs in the Gay Community
Pages 26

SUMMARY: This study suggests that an emerging, popular market profile legitimizing gays as a lucrative niche may need qualification. Those targeting the gay community encounter subtlety and contradiction that traces to a history of exclusion and discrimination. Using data from a major Seattle (WA) survey, the study examines barriers to securing goods and services. While basic demographics such as gender have a strong influence on perceived barriers, other issues such as a need to conceal one's orientation, abuse encountered, and means to complain are examined. In short, to those seeking characteristics of a potentially powerful market segment, this study seeks to identify and discuss market areas most likely to drive gays and lesbians back into the closet. [Article copies available from The Haworth Document Delivery Service: 1-8oo-342-9678.J

INTRODUCTION

Likened by some advertisers to a market that is "upscale and cutting edge," gay and lesbian consumers have achieved a visibility unthinkable a few years ago ("Overcoming," 1991). Indeed, anecdotal accounts suggest a vibrancy to this marketing niche that spells profits for advertisers and positive recognition for the gay/lesbian community. In the past several years, major national advertisers-Phillip Morris, Shearson-Lehman, Nestle, Columbia House, Gap Stores, Miller Brewing, and Hiram-Walkerhave come to advertise in the gay/lesbian press. lKEA, a national furniture chain, recently featured in national TV ads a "loving" gay male couple buying a dining table (Gay and Lesbian Alliance, 1994a, p. 1). Increasingly, mainstream advertisers have contributed as sponsors to major gay community events such as the 1993 March on Washington and the 25th Stonewall Anniversary in 1994 (Goldman, 1994; Horovitz, 1993).