This article investigates trends in the marketing of gay and lesbian tourism. It reviews gay and lesbian travel guides from the 1960s to the 1990s before examining more recent travel materials including brochures and Web sites promoting specific American cities. These promotional materials are a valuable object of inquiry because they are uniquely situated at the intersection of discussions of sexuality, the market, representation, space, and citizenship. Through an aggregate semiotic analysis and ideological criticism, this article examines themes and concerns raised by the recent wave of gay tourism marketing, including questions of visibility, privacy, and assimilation. I argue that while marketers’ recent attempts to lure gay and lesbian tourists to specific destinations may seem to suggest increased tolerance and societal inclusion, the specific strategies that they employ actually reveal the second-class citizen status still experienced by gays and lesbians within the rest of American society.
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