So I am coming a few days late to the party of commenting on the Dolce & Gabbana boycott, called out to we gays and our supporters by Sir Elton John and others. I would hope that we as people, both lgbt and straight folks, can agree that the out and gay designers, put their foots-in-their-mouths with such offensive and stupid statements. (Use your inside voices boys, don’t spew hate to a wide-audience interview). Do they have the right to their opinions? Sure! Should all personal opinions be given to the world at large? Definitely Not! I think we do have to understand that these men are true Italians in a country that has not been very forward-thinking in lgbt rights and equality, and also a country that has a plurality of Catholics, (c’mon, the Pope-Mobile is parked in Italy), where these issues and right-to-life, are the daily group-thought.
My point in addressing this issue however, is not what they said, or the amount of stupidity that I thought they spewed, but is a boycott really the best we can do? The first lgbt boycott I can remember, was against the Coors brewing company, primarily for their anti-gay hiring practices. I guess you can call it successful, as it did bring attention to the issue, and I remember it, but was it successful in changing the practice? Eventually the practice was changed, but was it due to the boycott that was enacted in 1973? If yes, that’s a long negotiation, because the boycott wasn’t called off until twenty two years later in 1975.Since then, our lgbt Community as called for other boycotts, including: the Heinz Company, the Salvation Army, Target, Best Buy, Chic-fil-A, and Stoli vodka. To my knowledge, all these companies are still going, have not really changed the issues that we were boycotting against, and I can tell you that personally, without my trusty Internet, mostly been forgotten.
In today’s day and age, is a boycott really worth our time? I am not saying there are not acts, both in words and deeds, that should not be rallied against in protection or defense of our Community, but with the technology we have available, and the communication that is available, I think we need to re-think our definition of boycott. Maybe it is my definition of boycott that is archaic, but doesn’t it still mean primarily to stop using your dollars to support the company or person? Most boycotts that I am familiar with, start with some great press, but after the initial round of press, you never hear anything about it.
I want to support our Community, but a boycott for me and many like me, are just not an option. I don’t drink beer, I like my fries with Ketchup dammit, and if I could afford Dolce & Gabbana, I would not still be living in Northeast Ohio. I can participate in physical and virtual protest that isn’t a solitary purchasing boycott, and I could keep at it until we seem some actual hard line results. I could create a video-a-week about two men kissing or together in a Heinz ad, and send it to their headquarters every day until I saw them show diversity in one of their ads. I can write letters to the editor and blogs weekly about a candidate who I completely disagree with their politics, that has been supported by some company’s money. I don’t want to have to sneak into Target to get my next discounted coffee maker. Look at Elton John, who days after calling for the D & G boycott, had the misfortune of carrying a make-shift man purse, out of an older D & G bag from a prior purchase, just days after calling for the boycott. (See, social media can be a real b*tch).
Our lgbt Community is online like almost no other, and we have a large range of options we can use to put pressure on companies or persons who spread homophobia, hate, or sometimes, just plain ignorance. Let’s coordinate email campaigns, micro-protests at storefronts when possible, social media posts and videos that can be shared, and shared again. I am not trying to oppose the “idea” of a boycott, just maybe the execution of one. How can we come together as a Community and make it successful, and sustaining until we get the change we are looking for, or the acknowledgement of our complaint. Anyway, that are my thoughts on boycotts, I would love to know how others feel and what alternatives you have found that are working, or what didn’t work.