Queer money $$$. One of the great graphic promotional campaigns of the century…..
Art Chantry ( firstname.lastname@example.org ):
One of the truly greatest, most impressive and starkly brilliant graphic branding campaigns of all time happened right under our collective noses and we saw it and reacted, but we have never really paid any sort of formal attention to it. I’m talking about “queer money”.
Queer money is now credited by sociologists and historians and activists as THE turning point in the recognition of that (formerly) underground community and it’s acceptance into mainstream open life in america. It literally branded the homosexual economic power – the ‘gay dollar’ (if you will) – and it did so simply, beautifully and totally anonymously.
The campaign (i believe i read somewhere) started in San Francisco in the early/mid 1970’s. It was also the same time that a new printing technology was released to the market: the self-inking rubber stamp. without this humble new printing technology advancement, gay folks might still all v=be living in closets in this society.
i’m always fascinated by the ways that the human mind will adapt new technology to surprising tasks. It’s the source of most of the innovation in america since WW2 – adaptation and appropriation. We take an idea that emerged as a solution somewhere else in our culture and then simply take it and adapt it to a new task. That is the basic precept of post modernism. It’s not about inventing the ‘new’, but taking the existing and adapting it inventively. From this viewpoint, the queer money campaign is probably the first truly great social postmodernist political event.
The conceit of the idea of queer money was incredibly pristine and so astoundingly simple. Basically, it worked like this: pre-inking rubber stamps (the kind with the tidy little non-leaking caps) were manufactured with the graphic “QUEER $$$” all pre-inked and ready to stamp. The participants in the campaign were simply asked to rubber stamp every piece of paper money that passed through their hands. That’s all. Brilliant, huh?
Before too long, starting on the west coast and then eventually literally flooding the nation, bills rubber stamped ‘QUEER $$$’ appeared everywhere. By the late 70’s, you literally couldn’t find a handfull of money in your pocket that didn’t have this on at least one bill. It was omnipresent and it was kinda impressive.
Queer money showed, in spades, for all the world to see, just how big the economic impact of the gay constituency actually was in this country. And it was HUGE. The business heads took note (good american capitalists, all of them) and began to tailor their products toward capturing that cash. They softened restrictions on entertainment that contained gay depictions. Restaurants opened their arms. The advertising world created the legendary “gay window” – a practice where advertising was often aimed at TWO markets. For instance and advert that looks like it’s being aimed at single women in their 30’s might appeal even more strongly (if you read it sideways) to gay men of all ages.It could easily double sales if it was done right.
The queer money campaign also opened up the political doors in ways that years of social activism in the streets could NEVER have accomplished. Almost immediately politicians began to court the gay dollar for their campaign war chests, and that can’t be accomplished without payback to the supporterhe queer money campaign changed America forever. Absolutely and astonishingly fast, too.
Soon thereafter many many other social and political interests attempted to try the same idea. Before the decade was over, we saw “lesbian money’, ‘”timber dollars”, and the still-with-us “i grew hemp” stamp (george washington was a hemp farmer. thus pro-hemp). But, the genie was out of the bottle. Each subsequent campaign seems to have burned less brightly and now altered cash seems to be the province of the website promoters and unimaginative concept artists.
The queer money campaign is one for the history books. Probably one of the greatest graphic promotional campaigns of the century.
art chantry:this is not the sort of thing they teach in academia. they’re too myopic to see this one. besides, it doesn’t fit into their version of how the world works (“academia is the source of all learning”).
you might pick it up in a sociology class about the gay rights movement, tho. but, only in passing. they tend to concentrate on academic studies there as well. real action utilizing graphic language usually is beneath their notice….too many people have been victimized in the extremes for way too long to try to reduce this story to a mere graphic branding campaign. it’s obviously callous of me to even suggest such a thing (in all honesty.)
…so, thanks for tossing in the reminder of all of the people anonymous and forgotten or otherwise, who fought and continue to fight the good fight. after all, this may have been a brilliant campaign, but it was orchestrated by brilliant talented minds, hard hard work and enormous loss. we should never ever forget that. …the whole point of my perspective about the language of graphic design is that it DOES NOT EXIST IN A VACUUM (as academics tend to treat it). this language is a direct product of all of us working together unknowingly or otherwise. so, the idea that this brilliant campaign was the product of a much larger dialog and continuing history is inherent to my being fascinated by it in the first place. i would like that to become an assumed part of reading anything i write.
i’m a champion of the common man. sounds stupid to say that out loud, but i think it’s true.
by the way, eat the rich….oh, they’re not COMPLETELY useless. i mean, use a little imagination…
for instance we could draft them and use them for cannon fodder in the economic wars they created. they could become wonderful instruments of irony in that way. educational, too….
Tom Peters unleashes on on Peter Drucker. I knew they had different views on management, but i was surprised at the depth of the animosity on display here.
I’m of two minds about this post. I’m surprised at the dour cynicism of Drucker’s comments. At the same time, his idea that schools exist to make the mediocre more competent has an element of truth. It is not so much that A, B, and C are mediocre people. Rather, A, a salesman, is not a numbers whiz (except when it comes to quotas and his bonus). On his own, he is unlikely to become a star financial analyst nor is he interested in becoming one. However, with training and education, he can become more adept at reading income statements, marketing reports, etc. Increasing his competence in those areas makes him a better salesman and raises his value to his company …Read More:http://leadandgold.blogspot.com/archives/2006_10_01_leadandgold_archive.html
That would seem obvious when you combine the proportion of the population reputed to be queer (between 4 and 10 percent) with the 37 million poor people in America. Yet the early surveys done on gay and lesbian economic status in this country told a different tale: that queers had more disposable income than straights, lived more luxurious lives, and were all DINKs (Dual Income No Kids). “My book begins as a critique of those early surveys, which were done largely to serve the interests of gay and lesbian publications and a few marketing companies,” says economist M.V. Lee Badgett in her new book, Money, Myths, and Change: The Economic Lives of Lesbians and Gay Men. “Those surveys are deeply flawed.” Read More:http://www.villagevoice.com/2001-06-19/news/queers-without-money/
…Badgett notes that “opposition to gay people is often based on the perception that queers are better off than everybody else; that we’re really asking for ‘special rights’—and that breeds resentment.” Badgett’s research shows something else. It constitutes the first true picture of queer economic reality. Among other things, Badgett found that:
Gays, lesbians, and bisexuals do notearn more than heterosexuals, or live in more affluent households.
Gay men earn 13 to 32 percent less than similarly qualified straight men (depending on the study).
Though lesbians and bisexual women have incomes comparable to straight women—earning 21 percent less than men—lesbian couples earn significantly less than heterosexual ones.
But . . . try finding representations of poor or working-class gay people on Will & Grace. See how hard you have to search for media images of queers who are part of the vast working poor in this country. Find the homeless transgendered folks. Find stories of gay immigrants, lesbian moms working three jobs, bisexual truckers falling asleep from too many hours on the road, gay men in the unemployment line. Try finding an image of queer people who are balancing on the edge—or have fallen off.
The myth of our wealth goes deep, so deep that even other gay people seem to believe it. Read More:http://www.villagevoice.com/2001-06-19/news/queers-without-money/