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A hilarious complaint about the 'If it’s not gay, it’s not gay' video has been shot down

Tuesday 14th November 2017

“I’m not me.”


Image: Supplied
A still from Rainbow Youth's new ad.

Image: Supplied

A complaint about Rainbow Youth’s recent “If it’s not gay, it’s not gay” ad campaign has been shot down by the Advertising Standards Authority.

Last month, Rainbow Youth released a short video calling out casual homophobia.

The video shows a farmer saying “gay” after dropping a pie. A mate replies, “Actually Nigel, that's not gay at all.”

"It's deeply disappointing, but it's not gay."

The ad has racked up almost 1.2 million views and has been widely praised.

Rainbow Youth is a charitable group that helps young queer and gender diverse people.

We previously spoke to the organisation’s executive director, Frances Arns, who said the ad aimed to show that using the word “gay” in the wrong context can be very harmful.

Unfortunately, not everyone was stoked with the video.

An Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) decision released today shows that someone complained about the ad’s “If it’s not gay, it’s not gay” slogan.

Gay Fairweather wrote to the authority: “I am not fine with a slogan saying I am not me because I’m not a lesbian. I feel the slogan is insulting to all the females who’s [sic] name is Gay & is unacceptable.”

Gay, 57, goes on to explain her name’s meaning is “happy” and that she is heterosexual.

“I am deeply insulted with the slogan as I feel it’s saying unless I’m a lesbian I’m not me,” she wrote.

“I have never been offended or insulted that my name is Gay. There has been the looks & laughter, which I’m fine with. I’ve accepted that I’ve had to change the spelling of my name for emails & other software that requires my name.”

Unfortunately for Gay, the ASA has rejected her complaint.

“The Chair ... noted the advertisement before her was promoting the appropriate use of the word ‘gay’ in relation to homosexuality and to discourage its use in a derogatory way,” its decision reads.

The ASA said the ad was unlikely to cause “serious and widespread offence” and was socially responsible.

In reaching its verdict, the ASA cited a historic 2013 decision, in which an M. Ramsbottom complained about a Trade Me advertisement.

My name is Ramsbottom, which I am extremely proud of.

Trade Me’s video showed people in the early 20th century working in jobs that corresponded with their surnames.

“There was once a time when the name of your family defined your job. Cooks were born to cook. Smiths were born to work with metal. And the Ramsbottoms? Well, the name said it all,” a voiceover said.

“But these days with Trade Me jobs there are opportunities galore and you can do whatever you want to do. Which is good news, not least of all for the Ramsbottoms.”

M. Ramsbottom complained the ad was a source of ridicule to his name: “My name is Ramsbottom, which I am extremely proud of and I take offence in the way the surname is used in this advert.”

The ad was judged a humourous and light-hearted way to highlight the breadth of opportunities that are now available on Trade Me jobs.

The ASA also cited an historic decision involving an advertisement referring to the name Trudy as a “fat girl’s name”. That too was rejected.

Rainbow Youth told The Wireless it was happy with the decision.

“We’re really proud of our ad, and think it tackles an important issue. It’s the top of the iceberg in terms of homophobia in our society, but’s an important step,” the group said.

“We’re one of the only countries having a national conversation about this issue and that’s something we’re proud of.”

Join the discussion »

“Just did a quick google on the etymology of the word in question.

Like most words in language, the meaning of "gay" changed gradually over hundreds of years. Moving from happy/joyful/colourful, through promiscuous/beautiful, even meaning young hobo (whom often engaged in homosexual acts) eventually to mean homosexual.

Most important to your point is that the gay community did not "take" the word. It was used to describe them by others, from very early on in the word's existence as a way to indicate an inferior being.

Once the word became cemented as a term describing their sexuality - and simultaneously used to insult them - it is no wonder (and no fault) that any gay person would want to take hold of the word.

You're right, words have been changed by culture and will continue to do so, but that doesn't mean we have to accept and be a part of using them to hurt our fellow humans.” — My comment is not to make you feel bad, but to provide a different perspective. I hope we're still cool :)

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Max is a journalist who has worked for The Star, Bleacher Report and RNZ News.
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