Eliminating homophobia, one commercial at a time

Graphic by Jennifer Kwan
Graphic by Jennifer Kwan

Our provincial government has been criticized quite often since being elected — and rightly so — for various reasons, among them spending public funds on a government institution like the Office de la Langue Française and creating bills that have most scratching their heads in anger or confusion. However, credit must be given where it is due. Quebec has once again proved that it is an innovative province with just the mindset to come up with excellent, unique ideas.

The Quebec government has launched a $7.1-million ad campaign that will last five years and will look to crack down on homophobia in Quebec. The commercials will show normal situations between couples, in which the viewer has no idea until the very end of the ad that it is between a same-sex couple. The narrator will then proceed to ask, at the end of the commercial, “Does this ad change what you were thinking about 20 seconds ago?”

Homophobia is not a joke. Approximately 78 per cent of us, according to an 800-person survey conducted by the provincial government, are comfortable with diverse sexual orientations. Despite Quebec being an open-minded province in regards to sexual orientation, homophobes still exist. Although we say that we are open to people having different sexual orientations, this ad campaign will try to see how open we really are as a province.

“We learned in our research that Quebec is viewed as open to sexual diversity—but homophobia still exists and it still exists in Quebec,” said Martine Delagrave, who works for Cossette Communication, the firm that developed the ads. “Our idea for a first campaign was to shed some light, to have some awareness about how open we really are.”

The truth is that a lot of us aren’t as comfortable with sexual diversity as we would like to think. Although we have come a long way since then as a people, there is still a long way to go and whoever says otherwise is kidding themselves.

That’s why I think the provincial government was spot on with these ads. They’re looking to put a positive light on diverse sexual orientations by shocking or surprising us towards the end of the ad. As we’re watching, we realize that there’s nothing odd about the situation; a woman finding a note from her partner, her partner being a woman at the end, or a man arriving at the airport, looking for his lover, who is another man. What’s good about these ads is that it makes the homophobic viewer think about why he or she is homophobic in the first place by portraying the couples in an everyday situation. This, for me, is a starting point in eliminating homophobia. The next batch of ads will probably go even further in proving this particular point.

In a 2006 census conducted by Statistics Canada, it shows that there are over 45,000 same sex couples in Canada, 18.4 per cent of those residing in Montreal. These numbers cannot be ignored, and we must move forward in completely eliminating homophobia from our societal ranks.


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