Back Talk: Marketing — sex sells, but are you buying?

Product: Self

A lot of people come out and realize that the community is not always the easiest place to navigate — instead of welcoming gift bags, we sometimes hand out cold shoulders.

The community can be very judgmental of other LGBT members, based on looks, origin, or money. While there are a lot of great support resources, like community centers, support groups, and mentors, this often takes a while for people to find.

It seems that more emphasis gets placed on the physical self than the person’s interior.

Place: The bedroom

Sex sells.

Sex and marketing go hand-in-hand, or more specifically, hand-in-pants. Almost everything in our culture — from gum to car insurance — is framed in a sexual gaze. Marketing is about exploiting people’s desires — and sex is a very basic need.

Studies show that when someone is interested in a thing or person their pupils dilate. Red is the color of sex. People like a certain smell — because of these things that scientists call “pheromones,” and I call deodorant or if European, au natural.

In the gay male community, a person’s social value is often determined on their sex appeal — basically, how “fuckable” they are.

Social status can come with the number of sex partners or presumed desirability (this can often be superseded by one thing: money).

Along with marketing, comes the desire to obtain goods — he who dies with the most wins, after all.

Instead of fulfilling a sexual need, sometimes one-night stand conquests are about validation, something to fill a consumerist mentality.


Promotion: Looks

This is about how we package and sell our goods for the general public’s consumption. Are we the nice guy, the player, the daddy?

With an obsession about looks, and a sexually-dominated gaze, people can feel uncomfortable with showing their true selves. In my experience, I’ve noticed that gay men sometimes predicate conversations on how attracted they are to the person.

At last month’s Pride, a guy who had been flirting with my friend told me that he can’t have any gay friends because all they want is sex. I looked at him and wondered what type of people he was trying to befriend.

If you put forth sexual/flirtatious vibes how friendly are you really trying to be?

Part of living in the LGBT community is accepting people’s differences and what makes them unique. If we have a uniformed mentality and look, then we will fade into the background.

Try this: Next time you are out, say hello to someone that you don’t want to sleep with. Maybe you’ll find that you have something in common with them and will be able to form a friendship that goes beyond looks.

Price: To be determined

When people identify as being marginalized because of their sexuality, it’s hard not to be preoccupied with sex. But we have to navigate these feelings and understand that our lives happen mostly outside the bedroom.

I don’t think that we should suppress ourselves sexually, but how does our sexual prowess affect our everyday relationships?

By constantly looking for sex and not trying to build meaningful relationships, we are selling ourselves short, at a retail-value.

Sometimes, the image does not always live up to the reality. We as people are much more than just looks, than marketing; we are a combination of a whole bunch of variables — experience, thoughts, and values.

We owe it to ourselves to try and see through the marketing of it all and figure out what it’s really all worth.

Sex may sell, but I’m off the market. Read my new blog about my year-long commitment to not dating or having sex.

Over the holiday weekend, I thought a lot about the United States’ favorite past time — no, not football, gossiping, or even texting — the thing that is most integral to success: marketing.

The United States loves marketing, because, regardless of what we’re selling, it’s all about presentation — the newest product, sleekest design, or the prettiest interface.

Because of our near obsession with consuming — even if we’re not in some type of business — we are constantly marketing ourselves. Our consumerist mentality has been projected onto our bodies and social lives.

Is this true about the LGBT community? Is the marketing of the gay lifestyle just about sex?

I studied business in college, and one of the things that I remember from marketing class is the “marketing mix.” There are four basic “P’s” in this mix: product, place, promotion, and price.

About The Author

Tyler Gillespie

Tyler Gillespie a fifth-generation Floridian, educator, and award-winning writer. He's the author of the nonfiction collection "The Thing about Florida: Exploring a Misunderstood State" (University Press of Florida, 2021) and two poetry collections "Florida Man: Poems" (Red Flag Poetry, 2018) and the "nature machine!"...
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