You may have already heard about Honey Maid’s “This is Wholesome” ad campaign and the very big reaction (both negative and positive) that it has garnered. If you haven’t heard about or seen the ad, I’ve posted it above. The thirty second spot features families of all types enjoying Honey Maid graham crackers in their daily lives. While the mixed race couple and the tattooed hipster dad haven’t garnered much attention, the gay dads in the commercial brought a firestorm of comments. Not surprisingly, some religious groups and conservative thinkers see the ad as an affront to their beliefs.
Here’s a longer spot featuring Dad and Papa:
This is wholesome is the simple message of this ad campaign. But it could just as easily be THIS IS IMPORTANT. The Mister and I came of age in a generation when gay people were not present on television or in movies, let alone ad campaigns. Actually, gays were present but they were mostly used as comic relief (look at the mincing queer!) or shown as depraved monsters. As a boy in middle America in the 1980’s, I would have loved to have seen a healthy and honest portrayal of real gay people living real normal lives. When I was taunted for my perceived sexuality and left wondering what was wrong with me, it might have been a comfort to see Dad and Papa in an ad campaign.
And that’s why these ads are so important. Critics of the campaign have cried that ads like these are normalizing homosexuality. They’re right. This ad is showing that gay people are regular folks leading normal lives. And that’s exactly what we need to see.
Twenty years ago, when I first came out as gay at the age of 18, I made it a point of being open and honest about my sexuality. Even at that age I was confident that as more gay people were out in the open about the normalcy of their lives, society would shift on their attitudes about homosexuals. When we reduce people to faceless groups – “the gays” or “the immigrants” – we stop seeing them as humans. It’s easy to judge or hate an entire group. It’s when you start to understand that we’re all human beings facing the same truths, travails and triumphs that we can start to become compassionate. When “the gays” includes your neighbor or your brother or your favorite teacher, it’s a little harder to throw around hateful words and messages.
When Honey Maid received backlash about their ad campaign they responded with a message that is equally important:
It’s all about love, Honey Maid proudly proclaims in their response to the haters. And, really, there could be no better message than that. Love is love. People are people.
Just a couple of days ago The Mister and I were talking about the blog and I started to wonder if the name – Mr. and Mr. Blandings – might have been a mistake.
“Why do you think that?” The Mister asked.
“Oh,” I said, “it’s just that blurting out that our blog is very obviously about a gay couple rehabbing their dream house may be a bit much.”
“But that’s who we are,” he said. “And we’ve never shied away from who we are.”
He’s right, of course. In everything we’ve done, we’ve always striven for honesty. In our fifteen year relationship, we have always been honest with people we meet. “This is my husband,” is how I’ve introduced The Mister even before we were legally married. We’ve always been confident that by showing the world that we’re just another married couple trying to carve a little happiness out of life, we’re doing a little bit of good in the world.
Thank you, Honey Maid, for reminding us that honesty is the best policy.
— J. Blandings