Coming Out of the Closet as a Conservative for Gay Rights

How can Conservatives modernize their campaigns and appeal to younger voters? Take a clear stance for LGBT equality and direct campaign advertising toward LGBT voters.

In the UK, the Tories filmed an advertisement that would have done just that. The advertisement, meant to be shown before elections, shows a gay couple in the shower “coming out” as Conservative. One of the men said “It feels so right. I am going to tell everyone.” And the other man embraced him before replying “I think I am too.” The audience is meant to believe the two men are considering coming out as gay, before a Vote Conservative slogan shows up on the screen.

The advertisement series was linked to the “I’ve never voted Tory before” billboard campaigns, was meant to pick up voters that normally would not consider voting Conservative. The series included an advertisement with a teenage boy who looks like he’s watching porn but is actually reading Conservative Party literature, and another advertisement where a girl confesses to her parents that she’s “three months Conservative” (and the parents blame her boyfriend).

The ads, which cost over 100,000 pounds to produce, were never shown — perhaps for fear that they would alienate traditional supporters.

While their fear may be true, the Conservative party could have benefited greatly from more support from LGBT voters. In June 2009, survey results showed that 39 percent of LGBT voters in the UK planned on voting Tory in the next general election (in comparison, only 29 percent planned to vote for the Labour party). But right before the last general election, only 9% of LGBT voters were planning on voting Tory in the upcoming election.

An advertising campaign directed at LGBT voters could have turned around the drastic drop in support among LGBT people. Perhaps if the Tories had aired the ads they would have gotten the extra seats needed for an overall majority.

Photo credit: Simon J Rowe