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GLAAD launches celebrity ad campaign
Notable performers like Cyndi Lauper and Ben Affleck pose with their LGBT relatives

by Ben Finzel

NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. — Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) launched “Stay Close,” a new educational advertising campaign designed to help families and friends better understand and accept the LGBT people in their lives and to keep those relationships intact.

The campaign, featuring photographs of straight celebrities and well-known personalities with their LGBT family members and friends, will first appear in high profile outdoor, print and transit advertising space in New York and Washington, D.C. Print ads will begin appearing nationally in Time, Inc. publications beginning in mid-February.

Despite statistics showing that one in four American families includes someone who is gay, LGBT people are often rejected by their loved ones because of their sexual orientation. PFLAG developed the “Stay Close” campaign to help keep families and friends together.

“Society has made progress, but not enough has changed,” says Barbara Warner, national spokeswoman for the campaign. “Even in the age of Will and Grace, many LGBT people are still living on the margins of our culture and remain isolated from those they love. The ramifications of this are staggering and for some are a matter of life or death.”

Statistics show LGBT people experience greater rates of depression, homelessness, harassment and suicide. One study found that 40 percent of the 1.3 million homeless youth living on America’s streets are thought to be LGBT children thrown out of their homes by their parents. Further, a third of all youth suicides are related to issues of sexual identity.

The “Stay Close” campaign advertisements feature straight celebrities and well-known personalities with their LGBT relatives. Currently, six separate ads depict actor Ben Affleck with his cousin, Jason; singer Cyndi Lauper with her sister, Elen; Congressman and Mrs. Richard Gephardt with their daughter, Chrissy; Latina media mogul, Cristina Saralegui with her brother Ignacio; singer Barbara Cook with her son Adam; and New York Congressman Gregory Meeks with his brother John.

“People need this campaign — both gay and straight,” says Lauper. “I want people to know that it’s about changing hearts and minds. It’s about moving from simple tolerance to understanding to acceptance. But, ultimately, it’s about unconditional love.”

The ads can be viewed online on the new “Stay Close” website — www.stayclose.org. The website features information about each celebrity, background about PFLAG and the “Stay Close” campaign, resources for families and friends of lesbians and gays and related information.

About Stay Close

In 2002, PFLAG New York took the lead in developing an awareness campaign targeting parents, families, teachers, clergy, politicians, LGBT people, and the general public to educate them about the importance of maintaining and strengthening the most important relationships in their lives. The goal was to reach people who would most benefit from PFLAG’s services and, ultimately, to increase acceptance, reduce bigotry, and change hearts and minds.

PFLAG New York partnered with Metro DC PFLAG and recruited talented individuals from various fields (advertising, PR, law, media) to work pro bono on the awareness effort, which became known as the “Stay Close” campaign. After three years of hard work by a large group of members, staff and professional volunteers, PFLAG NY and PFLAG Metro DC launched the “Stay Close” campaign. The message is clear: Stay Close to your loved ones because relationships are too precious to lose.


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