Are some cars more “gay” than others? Well not if they are labelled as such by Jeremy Clarkson who has been criticised by Ofcom (no release on website) for using the term in a derogatory fashion in relation to the Daihatsu Copen.
Cars are often described in terms of being “sexy“, “macho“, even “girly“. In many ways this is ridiculous – but other adjectives such as sleek, stylish, elegant, tough, rugged, also imply human characteristics, making sexual associations in a positive manner.
Here “gay” was used as a negative term, although the TopGayer site (whose editor Rich Tuckwell is fortunately okay after a nasty crash on Saturday) seeks to support “UK gay-friendly manufacturers, insurers and dealerships” – ie those who “offer domestic-partner benefits to their LGBT employees” and are “openly gay-friendly to their customers.”
Some car manufacturers have deliberately courted the “pink pound“. Ford has a grassroots network of gay, lesbian or bisexual employees (Globe) and sponsored the London Mardi Gras in 2000/2001, primarily promoting its Ka model.
However, the American Family Association slates Ford for such activities with its boycottford website. The car company is named as the top “pro-homosexual sponsor” on prime time US television. Overtly supporting one group of consumers clearly has the potential to offend another.
So is it time to avoid the sexual adjectives and linking of cars to particular gender-segments of the car buying market? Somehow I don’t think so.