Depicting Gayness in the Gleaner

Today the Jamaica Gleaner has printed a wire service article by the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) about the changing attitudes towards homosexuality in the Caribbean. And the article as-printed is interesting enough, but what interested me more is editorial choice of the picture accompanying the article. Let me explain why it is such an interesting choice.

Image accompanying gay uprising in Gleaner
Original Size of Image accompanying "gay uprising in Gleaner" article

I looked at the original CMC text as cached by Google, and the article doesn’t appear to have been sent with an accompanying photograph from the wire service. Thus I believe the image is probably a stock photo which the Gleaner made the editorial decision to insert. Which begs the question from me, why bother to insert a picture at all, if the picture accompanying a “Gay uprising in the Caribbean” article appears to be the picture of a heterosexual couple?  [low image quality of Gleaner images as published online]

It took me a while to realize it was actually a picture of a female “couple”, though neither of them is touching the other. But I still wonder if the image will offend Jamaicans, even with two women depicted?

Now, to be clear and fair here, I know (and you must know even more) that there are strong cultural mores surrounding the aversion/animosity of most Jamaicans towards homosexuals and homosexuality — especially male homosexuality. So with that in mind I wouldn’t assert that any picture accompanying this particular article should have depicted two men. But I wonder what/if any backlash there will be among readers regarding this picture of two women, especially considering this is published on a Sunday, which is often referred to as “the Lord’s Day” since it’s the day many Jamaicans attend church?

Secondly, it is interesting to note the reluctance of the Gleaner’s News Division to portray male homosexuality and to contrast that reluctance with their Advertising Division’s willingness to display ads for a gay matchmaker site. (I have to assume here in good faith that the News Division is truly independent from Advertising.)

Below are two screen shots from today’s issue. Apparently if I visit the Gleaner using the internet browser Internet Explorer -I see this the following version of the front page:

Image shown to those who accept cookies
Image of ad shown to those who accept cookies

But if I visit using the new Chrome browser’s Incognito feature – I see the front page below. The primary difference being that using Chrome’s “Incognito” mode allows you to visit a website and not collect their cookies; which is the equivalent of visiting their site and covering their eyes so they aren’t able to tell anything about you. Apparently the Google AdSense advertising available on the Gleaner’s front page to people they don’t know includes the 100% free gay ebony matchmaking site.

Image shown to those not accepting cookies
Image shown to those not accepting cookies

The first time I saw the ad I was surprised as I wondered immediately if they were displaying this ad to readers in Jamaica, and to what effect? Actually, in truth, my first thought was “why on earth are they showing ME this ad?” as it would be as strange to me as an ad for Midol. Anyway, once I realized it was being shown to site visitors from outside Jamaica I then wondered what Jamaicans would think?

One last behind the scenes look at the newspaper world before I end this post.

The full image address for the picture of the female couple above is: “http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20081012/news/images/Layout1_1_PENGUhomos741AM.jpg.” I can only guess the “1_1” refers to 1 of 1 images in the article, but note that someone naming this file inserted the word “homos” in the image file-name. Interesting, right?

The Gleaner’s editorial choices aside; in the end two female models did a photoshoot and they are now depicted as a “lesbian couple” though not appearing to even touch each other in the picture. Additionally, a male model does a photoshoot, innocent stuff that looks like it’d be used in gym brochures or fitness catalogs, and it ends up a global ad for a gay matchmaker site. Image may not be everything, but it’s pretty darn close. Where are all the “innocent” digital pictures you’ve taken ending up?

Caveat about comments: I have never deleted or declined a comment and I don’t wish to start now. No slurs/epithets or exortations to violence, please.

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3 thoughts on “Depicting Gayness in the Gleaner

  1. The Gleaner does use a lot of stock photographs of homosexual couples like the one above or of homosexual couples holding hands. But what I have observed is that they use mostly lesbian couple instead of gay couples. Maybe it is easier for our society to accept/tolerate the latter.

    As for that Goggle ad, I have never seen it on the site before, neither in Jamaica or when I was in the US. But I guess once they don’t know anything about you yo are fair game for their ads.

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