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Suburban Stores Are "Courting" Gay People Now

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In the wake of Pride Month, a Wall Street Journal article takes a look at how big chain stores like JCPenney, Target, and Macy's are courting gay customers. According to the WSJ, the brands—most of which have traditionally ignored gay culture in their advertising and marketing materials—are making efforts to cozy up to the demographic, as gay couples are increasingly settling down in suburbia.

To be honest, efforts seem a little weak—as least as far as they're described in the article. JCPenney is identified as the most aggressive gay courter: early this year they tapped lesbian talk show host Ellen DeGeneres to be the brand's spokesperson, and they've recently featured a gay and a lesbian couple in their catalog. (Also, they have a float in the NYC Pride parade.)

Target's efforts seem to be limited to some same-sex greeting cards and a line of PRIDE t-shirts. Which is still more than Macy's, who contributes to the cause by using "gay-friendly graphics in some of its windows" during Pride. Sears doesn't appear to do anything at all.

While that may not add up to much, the point here seems to be there's a subtle zeitgeist shift happening. Target is selling those same-sex greeting cards nationwide, for example—a sign the retailer sees a market for gay customers in Middle America and not just the predicable cosmopolitan centers.

Also, it may be that big retailers are starting slowly to see if current customers balk. If all goes smoothly, these baby steps may pave the road to mainstream gay and lesbian products and ad campaigns. "I think we will be seeing an increase as corporations see the value, both social and financial, in developing these relationships," a spokesman for the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network told the WSJ.

If she's right, we'd pay a million bucks for the chance to be the ones to tell Bruce Weber his day has finally come.

· More Retailers Are Courting Gay Customers [WSJ]
· Target's "Wear It With Pride" Campaign Features Rainbows, Harmony, and Harajuku [Racked]
· Bro Kiss By Shirtless Men Wearing Abercrombie & Fitch Surprises Exactly No One [Racked]