Today, Talking Points Memo published a piece that I co-wrote with Zach Wahls, a nationally-recognised LGBTQ rights advocate, about Tiffany & Co.’s new ad campaign:
Symbols—both the inclusion of same-sex couples in ad campaigns and marriage rings themselves—are powerful, especially in an increasingly shareable digital world, and the Tiffany campaign tells us a lot about the progress of LGBTQ rights in America. It also tells us just as much, and perhaps more, about the gravitational pull of the wedding-and-marriage industrial complex.
In other words, the Tiffany’s ad is just as retrograde as it is radical.
There’s certainly something radical about the presence of a gay couple in a Tiffany ad (insofar as any diamond ad can be radical). Tiffany is, after all, the zenith of marriage industry. As cultural symbols go, it doesn’t get much more powerful than an engagement ring from Tiffany. In popular culture, from Breakfast at Tiffany’s to the 2002 Reese Witherspoon romantic comedy Sweet Home Alabama—in which the heroine’s wealthy boyfriend proposes by taking her to the Manhattan Tiffany flagship after hours, flipping the light switch, and saying, “pick one”—the brand is synonymous with romance, wealth and high cultural capital, all of which are widely considered desirable.
You can read the whole thing here.