Transformative Topics

In recognition of the 52nd anniversary of Stonewall and its later incarnation as LGTBQIA+ Pride month, we feature two articles by Lisa Peñaloza. The first "Crossing Boundaries/Drawing Lines:  A Look at the Nature of Gender Boundaries and their Impact on Marketing Research gives a historical perspective on various forms of transgendering with an eye to pedagogy and research, and the second “We're here, we're queer, and we're going shopping! A critical perspective on the accommodation of gays and lesbians in the US marketplace addresses the development of the ‘gay market’ with attention to various consumers’ perspectives. In response to the current climate of hostility to LGTBQIA+ and the passage of restrictive laws in several states in the U.S. and in other nations, these articles provide sound material to support rich and productive classroom discussions for teachers, insights for managers and administrators, as well as family members, and potential topics for research.


Below Lisa reflects on the development of the papers:


The current tense climate for LGTBQIA+ persons and their loved ones is far from new.

During my doctoral research with Mexican immigrants (Atravesando Fronteras/Crossing Boundaries…,JCR 1994) thirty years ago, I became fascinated with similarities and differences in the development of the then-called Latino/a market as compared to that of the gay/lesbian/bi/trans/queer (nomenclature at that time) market. I employed the same metaphor for both projects, as their subject matter involve dealings with socio-cultural and market difference. The two social formations share characteristics and display very different features, historically and at present. Notably, GLBT and advertising publications and marketing practitioners were talking about the ‘pink dollar’ in the early 1990s and promoting this market roughly 10 years after similar parties were talking about ‘discovering’ the ‘sleeping giant’ and promoting the Latino/a market in the early 1980s. Parallels in these narratives reverberated at these times, while journalists and politicians dealing with both groups were then and continue to be more attuned to pressing social issues and controversies regarding the two very diverse groups.


Publishing on these topics in the form of consumer and marketing research/strategy was a bit less straight forward, pun intended! What helped turn the corner for me in conceptualizing and framing the projects in an acceptable way for publication in academic journals was addressing basic consumer relations and research ideals and practices that enabled and prevented researchers to ‘see’ GLBT consumers, and thus include us in research. Also invaluable to both articles was the groundwork of institutionally –minded colleagues. This first article, "Crossing Boundaries/Drawing Lines: A Look at the Nature of Gender Boundaries and their Impact on Marketing" appeared in a special issue of IJRM on postmodernism, edited by Stephen Brown.


The second article, "We're Here, We're Queer, and We're Going Shopping! A Critical Perspective on the Accommodations of Gays and Lesbians in the US Marketplace", emerged during a time when GLBT activists were demonstrating, with calls to action of, “We’re here, we’re queer and we’re not going shopping!” At the same time, other members of these communities recognized the value of such market inclusion as a route to social acceptance and inclusion. My goal was to address the contours of this polemic in a critical way, that is, in evaluating how market activity tends to accept the least challenging/most similar elements and expressions, while neglecting, even negating those more controversial. We can see this today. Consider the following: the passage of same sex marriage and its corporate support is occurring alongside the banning of books, the retraction of merchandise celebrating Pride, the passing of legislation forbidding conversations with LGTBQIA+ youth – persons among the most prone to suicide – and attempts to eliminate drag shows and sex reassignment counseling and surgery. The opportunity to publish this article was made possible  by Dan Wardlow who put together the special issue of the Journal of Homosexuality in which this second article appeared, in conjunction with a book of collected essays, which Dan also edited that same year, 1996, entitled Gays, Lesbians and Consumer Behavior. I would like to thank Dan and its publisher, Haworth Press, London, for their support and opportunity to bring these experiences and perspectives to light. I also thank Joyce Jacobsen and Adam Zeller and the U.S. National Institute of Health for continuing its distribution.



1. Citation: Peñaloza, L. (1994), "Crossing Boundaries/Drawing Lines:  A Look at the Nature of Gender Boundaries and their Impact on Marketing Research," International Journal of Research in Marketing, 11 (October) 359-379,



In this work I am concerned with the ways in which gender based knowledge is created and sustained in marketing research, and its increasing odds with postmodern phenomena. Drawing from personal testimony, scholarly texts, film, advertisements and music videos, I highlight crossing gender boundaries in marketing and consumer behavior, i.e., movement across lines that demarcate male/masculine and female/ feminine consumer cultures in the U.S. Marketing research implications of these gender crossings focus on: (1) the bias of the masculine subject position, (2) the limitations of the dichotomous treatment of gender, and (3) the absence of individual agency.


2. Citation: Peñaloza, L. (1996). We're here, we're queer, and we're going shopping! A critical perspective on the accommodation of gays and lesbians in the US marketplace. Journal of homosexuality, 31(1-2), 9-41, DOI: 10.1300/J082v31n01_02 .  Reprinted in Gays, Lesbians and Consumer Behavior, Dan Wardlow, ed., London: Haworth Press, p. 9-41 (1996), and in Queer Economics: A Reader, 2nd edition, Joyce Jacobsen and Adam Zeller, eds., London: Routledge, (2013), 304-329.



This paper draws from studies of social movements, consumer culture, and postmodern cultural theory to argue that gays and lesbians constitute a viable market segment in the U.S. Marketing practices targeting gays and lesbians are then critically analyzed, with attention to their impact on the U.S. market, on individual gays and lesbians, and on gay/lesbian communities. While marketing incorporation of gays and lesbians offers a strong sense of legitimation in capitalist society, these marketing representations tend to provide a somewhat distorted perspective of gay and lesbian life and culture, and for this reason merit serious critical attention.


Search for other papers about LGBTQIA+ research here.


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