This Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F) advertisement both challenges and reinforces popular stereotypes of gay males. On the one hand, the ad contradicts the stereotypical, negative, and distorted view that gay males are weak and not interested in sports, such as wrestling. Instead, it shows them as strong, athletic and masculine. The ad is clearly intended to inspire and motivate gay males to be sexually appealing, to have chiseled physiques, and to take greater pride in their appearance. It is designed to sell a product, A&F clothing, to young gay males, and does so by suggesting they will be physically attractive and have enjoyable sexual experiences if they shop at A&F.
On the other hand, the ad conveys this message in a way that could reinforce the low self-image that many gay men have of their physical appearance. By perpetuating the idea that gay men are sexually promiscuous and obsessed with obtaining a lean and carved physique, the ad implies, in a subtle yet oppressive way, that sex and physical attraction are essential for maintaining strong relationships. As a result, the ad could instill feelings among gay males who do not look like—and have no interest in looking like—the males in the ad that they are not “good enough” and that they have to be muscular to be sexually appealing.
Therefore, the messages in the ad support the view that Hsiu expresses in Assimilating the Queers: “the image of a toned, well-groomed, muscular gay man has become an ideal within gay male culture, a standard that gay men are both conditioned to aspire to and taught can be achieved through consumption.”
Wan-Hsiu Sunny Tsai. “Assimilating the Queers: Representations of Lesbians, Gay Men, Bisexual, and Transgender People in Mainstream Advertising.” Advertising & Society Review 11, no. 1 (2010) http://muse.jhu.edu/ (accessed July 31, 2012).