The American Family Association (AFA) was formerly the National Federation for Decency. It is headquartered in Tupelo MS. It was founded by Don Wildmon, an ordained United Methodist elder with cultural & political views of the extreme right. The organization is considered by many to promote a fundamentalist Christian world view. The Revd Wildmon founded the organization in the late 70s after watching prime time TV and determining that he didn’t think it showed family content that he wanted his young children to view. The Southern Poverty Law Canter has listed the AFA as a hate group since 2010 for the “‘propagation of known falsehoods’ and the use of ‘demonizing propaganda’ against LGBT people.” The AFA usually weighs in with other usual suspects in recent times whenever a major brand in the US incorporates GLBT families into their national advertising. They threaten boycotts, sponsor petitions and generally encourage folks to take their message against the retailers to the streets. Most recently the AFA attacked Target for their policy allowing transgender folks to use the restroom in which they feel most comfortable. This provoked bizarre situations of fundamentalist Christians parading through Target stores and shouting that Target was promoting the molestation of children in the store’s restrooms.
The most recent brand that the AFA has gone after is Hilton Worldwide. The international hotel chain has an ad in the recent edition of Travel + Leisure magazine which features two men cuddled in bed in their Hilton Hotel room. The AFA has placed a statement on it’s website chastising Hilton for placing the ad in a magazine seen by any and everyone, including a large portion of folks who find homosexuality unnatural and offensive.
Travel and Leisure isn’t a gay-specific magazine sent directly to homosexual’s homes. It’s a widely distributed mainstream publication that can be found in many public places such as doctors’ or auto repair waiting rooms. If Hilton had advertised two men playing tennis, cards, or having lunch, that would have been reasonable. However, Hilton chose to make a cultural and social statement by purposely marketing the promotion of homosexuality to a large segment of the population who finds the idea of two men sleeping together unnatural and offensive.
There is also a petition directed at Hilton Worldwide and demanding that the company only market “family” friendly material in their mainstream advertising. To date, 46,000+ people had signed on. For it’s part, Hilton has stated that it was “proud to depict and reflect our guest diversity in our advertising.”
This is the offending advertisement;
Information for this story was drawn from HufPost Queer Voices and Wikipedia.
The main image is a screenshot of an example of the City of New Orleans advertising to attract GLBT folks as visitors.
The second image is the ad from Hilton Worldwide, downloaded from Huffpost.