Site for gay ads debuts

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A new Web site featuring hundreds of gay-themed TV commercials comes out today, with the goal of educating advertisers, ad agencies and the public about how gays are portrayed in advertising.

The site, CommercialCloset.org, will showcase the ads, including some controversial spots that never aired, as well as storyboard stills and print campaigns. Ads are organized into four categories-positive, negative, neutral and "gay vague"-plus more than 50 subcategories with themes such as "Male Kisses," "(Straight) Dude Looks like a Lady," "Lipstick Lesbians," "Sports Stars" and "Anti-Gay Organizations."

More than 250 advertisers, including American Express Co., Coca-Cola Co., Heineken, Kmart Corp. and Nike, are featured, and more than 150 agencies are represented, with Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide having the most work presented.

The site (commercialcloset.org) was developed by business journalist Michael Wilke, executive director of the nonprofit Commercial Closet Association and a former Advertising Age reporter. Mr. Wilke, who will write commentary for the site, has tracked gay and lesbian marketing since 1992.

"There is an incredible increase and interest in including or depicting the gay community in advertising. It's clearly on people's minds," said Mr. Wilke, adding, "There is a real persistence of the use of stereotypes, usually for comic relief."

Several gay organizations, including Human Rights Campaign, Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the school-oriented Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network, are strategic partners promoting the project. Media partners include national gay magazines The Advocate and Genre, gfn.com, gay.com, Planet Out, GAYBC Radio and New York's HX and Empire magazines.

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