Is Urban Outfitters' Lesbian Kiss Really About Lesbians?

17/04/2012 16:39 | Updated 22 May 2015
Urban Outfitters catalogue lesbian kiss sparks outrageUrban Outfitters

Clothing brand Urban Outfitters has featured two women kissing in its April catalogue and promptly incurred the wrath of American protest organisation OneMillionMoms.

OneMillionMoms claims to "stand against the immorality, violence, vulgarity and profanity the entertainment media is throwing at your children" and has a reputation for anti-gay action. Previous campaigns include denouncing Toys R Us for stocking the gay marriage Archie comic book and attempting to get talk show host Ellen Degeneres removed as a spokesperson for JCPenney stores simply because she is openly gay.

OMM are now advising parents to "send an email letter urging Urban Outfitters to discontinue this ad and immediately stop the circulation of the catalog with the two women kissing or you will make a conscious effort to shop elsewhere."

Surely, rather than going off the deep end about how a same sex kiss is "offensive" (it really isn't), it would be far better to point out that the catalogue image seems to be an ultra-cynical attempt by Urban Outfitters to provoke a reaction while paying lip-service to repairing their relationship with the LGBT community.

Let's rewind:

Urban Outfitters previously incurred the anger of the LGBT community when it was revealed that their founder, Richard Hayne, had donated thousands in funding to right wing politician and supporter of anti-gay legislation, Rick Santorum (who says things like "I love my children. I love my friends, my brother. Heck, I even love my mother-in-law. Should we call these relationships marriage, too?" about same sex marriage.)

The funding came in the form of private donations and were not made on behalf of the company, but the link between shopping at Urban Outfitters, driving the brand's profits and Hayne being able to donate such hefty sums didn't do the brand's public image much good on the equality front.

Another incident which UO deny being related to any anti-gay sentiment but which really didn't help their cause was their decision to pull a pro-same sex marriage T-shirt from sale. The company stated that the item wasn't selling well and also confirmed that CEO Glen Senk was openly gay and had been in a committed relationship for more than three decades. Also, as SFist pointed out, the 'not selling' defence is at least believable given that the tee design itself was ugly.

The company noted at the time: "We wouldn't bring back the same T-shirt because it didn't sell well. But the head merchant is open to finding other products that support gay marriage and carry the same message but will be more popular with our customers."

Read: "If we can find something less fugly we'll give it another shot."

Something less fugly was duly found and Urban Outfitters spent part of 2009 stocking a marriage quality T-shirt and donating 100VIRTUAL-Polls-Agi9IA%

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