Cover image for Selling out : the gay and lesbian movement goes to market
Selling out : the gay and lesbian movement goes to market
Chasin, Alexandra.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
xxi, 344 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HF5415.33.U6 C48 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In the 1990s, a new niche market emerged in the United States: gay and lesbian consumers were targeted by both mainstream and gay and lesbian producers. Selling Out asks: What is the relationship between this niche market and the social movement that works for gay and lesbian rights? Locating the niche market and social movement in the context of the rise of consumer culture and pictorial advertising and the rise of identity-based social movements over the course of the 20th century, Chasin examines specific sites of intersection between them: the gay and lesbian press, advertising, boycotting, and the mechanisms of funding the movement. Chasin identifies the dynamics of race, gender, and class, as well as the ubiquitous nationalism, that inform both political and commercial practices in the gay and lesbian community.

Author Notes

Alexandra Chasin has taught at Boston College, Yale University, and the University of Geneva.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Many in the gay press seem to take pride in announcing every new commercial or advertisement that targets gays and lesbians, and books such as Grant Lukenbill's Untold Millions: Secret Truths about Marketing to Gay and Lesbian Consumers (1995) tout the potential of the gay and lesbian market. Chasin, cochair of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission's board of directors, questions in this thoughtful treatise, however, whether this is the kind of "acceptance" that leads to progressive social change. She documents the existence of the gay and lesbian "niche market of the 1990's," looks at the gay and lesbian press, and examines specific advertising campaigns. She then investigates the role of boycotts and focuses on the 1977 campaign against orange juice marketers who had used Anita Bryant as a spokesperson. Chasin also considers fundraising and gay and lesbian nonprofit organizations, and asks what strings might be attached to moneys raised. Throughout her analyses, Chasin acknowledges conflicts and differing points of view among gays and lesbians but warns against "cultural assimilation." --David Rouse

Publisher's Weekly Review

Is it possible to have a meaningful revolution in the middle of a capitalist spending frenzy? This, Chasin contends, is the central question facing the gay rights movement. In a passionate, if ultimately utopian, analysis of gay politics, Chasin asserts that the creation of a gay-oriented consumer market--in tandem with the mainstreaming of a gay politic that disavows broad-based coalitions with women and people of color--has prevented homosexuals from pursuing a more radical vision of social change. Although the movement has brought same-sex marriage and gays in the military into public debate, it has not promoted a comprehensive vision that would "provide all people with access to the full range of social institutions, over and above the equal right to them." Chasin, who has taught at Yale University, is terrific on the specifics: she notes the way recent gay-targeted ads evoke images of assimilation and national identity by using the U.S. flag or the Statue of Liberty, and she points out that advertising and magazine copy often create the impression of an all-white, predominately gay male community, while hypersexualizing the few images of racial minorities. Likewise, she deftly assesses how the contemporary marketing of gay culture resonates with the way consumption has historically contributed to ethnic identities. But while her arguments are capable, they often feel overintellectualized and don't always adequately account for the myriad contradictions inherent in struggling for social justice under the constraints of capitalism. Agent: Malaga Baldi. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

Chasin's illuminating analysis documents the degree to which gay and lesbian identity, as a subculture, is being eroded by advertising and consumerism aimed at the US homosexual community. Recognition of gay men and lesbians as an important market might be regarded by some as positive social acceptance. Chasin points out, however, that such assimilation behavior carries with it a negative quality, the decline of identity, of what it means to be different and to remain a distinctive subculture. She devotes an extensive chapter to the gay and lesbian press, which she finds dominated nationally by white gay men. The lesbian press is much smaller, poorly funded, and substantively feminist rather than consumerist. Chasin focuses attention on those groups underrepresented in the gay community: African American, Latino/a, Asian, poor, sick, very young, or very old. She argues that race and class should not be bases for marginalizing and excluding members within the gay community. Chasin's book is a thoroughly researched, cogently argued contribution to the ongoing discourse in the lesbian and gay community. Readers beyond that subculture will also benefit from this thought-provoking book. Extensive notes, exhaustive bibliography. Public and academic libraries at all levels. ; Wells College

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
List of Illustrationsp. xiii
Prefacep. xv
Introductionp. 1
1 Caveat Emptor, or Buyer Beware!p. 29
2 The Gay and Lesbian Press and the "Business of Liberation"p. 57
3 Advertising and the Promise of Consumptionp. 101
4 Boycotts Will Be Boycottsp. 145
5 Strings Attached: How Money Moves the Movementp. 183
6 Steal This Show: Away from Identity and Toward Economic Justicep. 221
Appendix The Boycott Literaturep. 247
Notesp. 255
Bibliographyp. 313
Indexp. 337