When you look at the picture above, what do you see?
The uplifting sight of a young happy couple in love, laughing together?
Or a big, fat “unnatural and offensive” two fingers at the big man upstairs?
Sadly, for one of America’s largest Christian fundamentalist organisations, the image, which is featured as part of an advert for Hilton Hotels & Resorts, the answer is the latter.
Featured in the June 2016 Issue of Travel and Leisure magazine, the inclusive new advert has incurred the wrath of the American Family Association (AFA), a charity designed with the specific goal of promoting fundamentalist Christian values in public life, particularly when it comes to television and the media.
Understandably frightened at the prospect of gay people being placed in the pages of a ‘mainstream’ magazine without any reasonable form of warning, the group have gone on the warpath, asking supporters to sign a petition to urge Hilton to market “responsibly” and in a “more family friendly manner”.
In a statement on the group’s website, the distraught bigots, still reeling from their brush with same-sex love, added suggestions on activities Hilton should depict two men doing instead, such as playing tennis, cards, or our own personal favourite, “having lunch”.
The statement reads:
Travel and Leisure isn’t a gay-specific magazine sent directly to homosexual’s homes. It’s a widely distributed mainstream publication that can be found in many public places such as doctors’ or auto repair waiting rooms.
If Hilton had advertised two men playing tennis, cards, or having lunch, that would have been reasonable. However, Hilton chose to make a cultural and social statement by purposely marketing the promotion of homosexuality to a large segment of the population who finds the idea of two men sleeping together unnatural and offensive.
Despite the kind suggestions, Hilton have stuck by the campaign in the face of the criticism, saying they’re “proud” to reflect all customers when it comes to their adverts.
“Hilton Worldwide is a global company of diverse cultures serving diverse guests,” a spokesperson said. “We are proud to depict and reflect our guest diversity in our advertising.”
So better luck next time, AFA. And for now, let’s take a moment to think of all those members now forced to live in a world where you have to close your eyes and brace yourself every time you flick through a magazine at the dentist. It’s no life.