“Meet Charli and Alex. Charli is German. Alex is American. They may have boys’ names, but Charli and Alex are girls. Straight girls. But they love each other, or at least working with each other.Charli’s visa expires on october 9th and she will have to return to Germany, unless she gets hired or married. Alex needs a job too and doesn’t want her partner to leave. Charli and alex love working together so much that they might have to resort to getting married to do so. But you can save them years of feigned lesbian interest by hiring them today or by granting them an interview.” [Emphasis Mine]
I appreciate that this effort is probably earnest in its attempt to help keep one member of a creative duo from being deported, but it’s incredibly insulting and offensive to LGBTQ people. As someone who is employed at a marketing agency, I understand that the industry forces people to pull inventive and creative stunts to get noticed. Some people do this with flair and outright camp, like Mathew Epstein’s efforts to get hired by Google. Others, like Alex and Charli, choose to mock queers, being incredibly offensive in their efforts to get jobs.
Oh, they’re just being funny, you say? They’re just trying to get jobs and keep Charli in the country. Where’s the harm in that, you say? See, here’s the thing: there are LGBTQ couples that can’t get married in their state of residence and face deportation as a result. I personally know a couple that had to negotiate a partnership across two countries because they couldn’t get married. Recently there was a story about a gay couple, one of whom had AIDS, that had to face deportation. Not funny at all. A job wasn’t on the line. Fear about losing one’s partner, one’s life, was on the line. Losing a friend to another country is sad but losing a life partner is, frankly, sadder.
Stances on gay marriage and deportation aside, Alex and Charli’s efforts to keep Charli in the country are a perfect example of the kinds of homophobia that are allowed to slip through the cracks because they’re perceived as harmless or in jest. It’s an egregious display of heterosexist privilege. It’s just a joke, but at whose expense? The gays shouldn’t just “lighten up.” Wasn’t it just a week ago when another queer teen killed himself, one who even made an “It Gets Better” video? Most of us know it doesn’t get better for everyone in the same way. And it can’t better if stunts like “Hire Us So We Won’t Have to Marry Each Other” are allowed to exist without any push back, without some kind of self-awareness from Alex and Charli.
If Alex and Charli were truly serious about getting jobs, they’d post parts of their portfolios on their FB page not pseudo-lesbian gal-pal cuddle shots. Their work would speak for itself. They would dream up some kind of campaign that would get them noticed and wouldn’t come at the expense of a politically, socially, and economically marginalized group. On a side note, have these two ever worked at a creative agency? If they did, they’d know that there are lots of LGTBQ folks in the industry. It’s not smart marketing strategy to potentially piss off the group that might be responsible for hiring you. I say this to you as a professional marketing strategist at an agency.
But judging by this stunt, they’re not creative “out of the box” thinkers because homophobia vis-a-vis straight dude fantasies of girl-on-girl action is as tired a marketing trope as they come. So, creative agencies, don’t hire these two women. They won’t have to marry each other and insult the gay and lesbian couples that actually want to marry one another.