Gay Employees Come Out for Anti-Discrimination Campaign

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A financial analyst prepares to come out at work.
A new paid campaign from The Gill Foundation -- a group that advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people's rights -- dramatizes the problem of workplace discrimination by showing actual people as they prepare to come out at work. The effort, created by DDB/Seattle and directed by documentary filmmaker Doug Pray (Scratch and Hype!) -- aims to encourage voter participation by drawing attention to the fact that in 36 states, LGBT people are not protected from being discriminated against based on their sexual orientation.

"We looked at it and thought, this has never been done before," DDB associate creative director Eric Gutierrez says of the project. "Our goal here was to light a fire, to get friends of LGBT people to get involved in the electoral process. For that, we knew we needed to do something more real than advertising."

In six new ads -- which will air regionally in June as part of an effort dubbed "TurnOut" -- we see interviews with people like John, a financial analyst about to come out to his boss, and Kimya, a social worker who was fired because she is a lesbian. "In the concepting phase, the story of Rosa Parks came up," Gutierrez says. "She was just a normal person who said enough is enough with a small act of personal courage. With that in mind, these are 60- and 30-second documentaries of real gay people who have decided enough is enough. By coming out in these small personal acts of protest, they're really going to stir things up."

And, now, with gay marriage shaping up a as big issue this election year, the campaign's message rings with even more relevance. "When we started concepting this, this was not the landscape we were dealing with," Gutierrez says. "A constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage? We wouldn't even have imagined it. Amidst the hoopla about that, this campaign reminds people that gays are still denied other basic rights."

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