As “Gay is OK” slogans grow in prominence, greeting cards companies are paying homage to the winds of social change by selling gay-friendly greeting cards.
Hallmark is currently selling Valentine’s Day, marriage, and anniversary cards for same-sex couples, a decision that has leveled conservative fury at the famed brand.
On Trinity Parkway, Anjana’s Hallmark Shop is stocked with hundreds of cards for nearly every occasion. An employee at the store confirmed that there are several cards available specifically tailored to the LGBT community.
Many gay-oriented cards reference partners, while a significant minority refer directly to “husbands, partners, and friends.”
The cover of one card billed as “Son & Partner” reads: “For Son & His Love,” inside which the parent’s message is one of love, understanding, and acceptance.
However, the majority of Hallmark’s cards are gender neutral. Consequently, a lesbian could buy a “Wife” card without it making any explicit references to a husband.
Notwithstanding, a minority of the spouse cards—particularly the Christian ones—express a man’s love for his wife, and vice-versa.
Despite the apparent lack of explicit same-sex cards, employee Chastity Puryear said that the store’s manager had at the time of the interview (mid-January) ordered a set of same-sex cards for the following week.
Same-sex Valentine’s Day cards and general sentiments of romance are expected to be in stock at Hallmark stores during the mad rush of the week precipitating the holiday.
Target has also started selling gay-friendly cards, an action taken to assuage accusations of homophobia leveled against the giant retailer.
In fact, several major companies, including Ford, Safeway, American Apparel, Levi’s, Betty Crocker and Oreo, have found themselves hurdling conservative protests and boycotts due to their offering LGBT support.
But why are companies reaching out to the LGBT community?
Economic incentive may influence major corporations to be increasingly gay friendly. The ever-changing American fabric is undergoing a shift in public opinion, and a record majority 51 percent of America now supports legalizing same-sex marriage, according to Pew Research Social and Demographic Trends’ online article “A Survey of LGBT Americans.”
“Surveys of the general public show that societal acceptance is on the rise,” the report says. “More Americans now say they favor same-sex marriage and fewer say homosexuality should be discouraged, compared with a decade ago.”
This report, in conjunction with major civil rights advances for the LGBT community across the nation in recent years, offers companies a chance to increase their sales margins.
“Enacting LGBT-supportive policies may provide a company with greater access to new customers,” the Williams Institute reports in its study “The Business Impact of LGBT-Supportive Workplace Policies.” An organization’s customer base may also expand due to consumer preferences for supporting companies that value diversity.”
Sophomore Elisa Wilson is less concerned with the gender specifics of Valentine’s Day cards; instead, she looks more for cards that remind her of her girlfriend. If nothing on the market catches her eye, Wilson says an alternative is making a more thoughtful, personalized card.
“It comes from the heart if you hand-make a card,” Wilson said. “It shows how much you really care.”
Wilson, however, doesn’t think that Valentine’s Day cards should matter so much in displaying affection for a lover.
“Why should we pick only one day a year to show we care?” Wilson asked. “We should care every day.”
A concern Wilson harbors about entrusting Hallmark with LGBT-specific greeting cards is the potential for stereotyping.
“I trust that [Hallmark] won’t be too stereotypical—like associating all lesbians with ‘butch,’” Wilson said.