Michael Crawford

Will Gay Media Get the "Obama Effect" Memo?

Filed By Michael Crawford | February 16, 2009 10:00 AM | comments

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There's an interesting article in the New York Times about how the "Obama Effect" has opened the eyes of fashion designers to the beauty of male models of color.

Thumbnail image for Duckie Brown Models.jpg

"Some casting sheets actually said 'No Blacks,"' the 19-year-old model Shawn Sutton was saying on Friday, backstage at the Duckie Brown show in the Bryant Park tent. He was referring to the model castings at the recent men's wear shows in Milan.

"It was pretty brutal and, yeah, it was racist," he added. "But things opened up a lot by Paris, so I paid it no mind."

As a gay man of color, I am thrilled that designers are discovering that beautiful men come in 31 flavors and then some, but I do wonder if the "Obama Effect" will reach gay media outlets.

Looking at virtually any media for gay men that is not specifically aimed at men of color, you'd think that you were watching an endless pictorial set in a Scandinavian country where Asian, Black and Latino men were non-existent. This holds true even when the layout is set in "majority minority" cities like Los Angeles, New York or D.C.

When a site like Queerty ups its melanin content by featuring models of color in its Morning Goods section, there are comments like these about Black model Shawn Sutton:

Another one? Is it February already?

No offence (and by this, I mean with all offence possible), but big lips are kind of a turn-off.

I get that gay mags and sites are about the fantasy of (white) gay perfection not reality and that being gay doesn't in any way preclude one from being racially clueless. But, I would think that at the very least demographic data showing American becoming increasingly diverse and the associated economic possibilities would jolt gay media producers out of their monochromatic stupor.

Just as the symbolically gay rainbow isn't composed solely of varying shades of white neither is the gay community. Only time will tell whether the recent popularity of male models of color will continue and if gay media will get the multi-hued memo. I hope so.


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I've always wondered why they always choose the white guys as models. It just gets boring. I could never just stick to one flavor at the ice cream shop either - I want variety!

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | February 16, 2009 12:20 PM

The Whitman's Sampler people have it right. Its all about tasting the rainbow.

greatwhitebear | February 16, 2009 2:05 PM

Duh!! Gay media has been and will likely be for decades racist, ageist, classist, and body-fascist more so than mainstream media. Blond, ripped, hairless bodies are highly comodified to the detriment of other looks and types, to please the porn-fed fantasies of white men.