Burger King Enters LGBT Corner with Proud Whopper

With state-level gay marriage bans toppling like congregants at a Pentecostal revival, it makes sense that more and more corporations would be courting the LGBT community. The most recent corporation to cash in is Burger King, which played it safe with a local item—called the Proud Whopper—available at only one store on the route of San Francisco’s Gay Pride Parade.

The Proud Whopper came packaged rather ostentatiously (what did you expect?) in neon rainbow striped paper. Other than that, it was the exact same Whopper. As if to transform this minimal effort into positive marketing, the wrapper had “we are all the same inside” written on it. See? Because a Proud Whopper is nothing more than a regular Whopper in a garish costume. And a homosexual is nothing more than a heterosexual in a rhinestone thong and roller skates … who likes men.

Now, if I were a member of the homosexual community, this move by Burger King would offend me on many levels. One one level, it would offend me almost as much as the opportunistic surge in “faith-based” movie divisions. Does anyone think Starbucks or Nike or Subaru or Burger King give a flip of the burger about homosexuals? I’ll give you a hint. They don’t.

They are businesses, and as such, they want to maximize their profits by gaining loyal customers. They leverage their ad campaigns for positive exposure while attempting to limit the backlash from other potential or actual customers. So Subaru knows that they have the absolute loyalty of the River Arts District in Asheville, most of whose occupants already sympathize with the LGBT cause. So Subaru keeps driving that gravy train, knowing that they won’t lose many customers if they tip their hat to homosexuals (and they might even gain a few more customers as the LGBT cause gains in popularity). This goes for all businesses.

Chick-fil-A (or “Chick-fil-hate,” according to the Subaru-driving hipsters of the RAD) knows that it can “take a stand” against homosexuality and actually increase the loyalty of its core customers. That’s a business decision. It’s time people realized that—in the vast majority of cases—politics, ethics, religion, and other purportedly ideological disciplines have been completely overrun by pragmatic market concerns. Whether on the right or the left, companies make political statements for marketing reasons. So let’s not be so quick to condemn or congratulate a corporate entity for its apparent political positions.

But there’s another level to the Proud Whopper that should be offensive to homosexuals: what it says about homosexuality is in direct contrast to what they say about themselves. If “we are all the same inside,” then the only distinction between a homosexual and a heterosexual is outward appearances—also known as behavior. If there is no ontological difference between homosexuals and heterosexuals, what are homosexuals griping about? Because we don’t let them dress flamboyantly enough in public? The Proud Whopper actually confirms what traditionalists have said all along—that homosexuality is a difference in behavior, not nature.

Burger King’s message to homosexuals is, “Have it Your Way.” But they can’t have it both ways. Either diversity is something to be celebrated and we should all be happy for the differences among us, or else the differences between us are the cause of our dissension and we need to emphasize how we are all really the same. This is a crucial issue with the LGBT cause because things like the Gay Pride Parade and self-imposed earmarks of ostentation indicate that the LGBT community is more interested in its own exceptionalism than it is in “fitting in” with the rest of us.

I find that troubling on many levels. Because while they fight to promote their own exclusive uniqueness, they are also fighting for mainstream normalcy. This is one reason why the Proud Whopper may not have the effect Burger King was banking on:

“In the past, most brands have been outreaching to the LGBT community through the LGBT media and it was almost a safe way of doing it because the only people seeing it were LGBT people,” said David Paisley, senior research director at Community Marketing and Insights, a market research firm focused exclusively on the LGBT community.

“What we’ve really learned over the last couple of years is the best way to reach the LGBT community and impress the LGBT community is through mainstream media outreach,” Paisley added. “What the LGBT people have been saying is don’t segregate us so much. We expect to see us in your mainstream advertising, not all the time, but once in a while.”

“Don’t segregate us.” But also, “We refuse to be integrated.” And there’s the rub. If LGBTs refuse to be segregated, but they also refuse to change, what does that mean? It means that either our culture and civilization must change to accommodate them, or they must be removed from our culture. There is really no other way around it. And, given the current trend, it’s looking like American culture will be rainbow-colored long before we refuse to allow normalcy to be dictated by a tyrannical minority.