That Ain’t Right, Nike


More homophobic advertising, this time from Nike. This one has been seen on phone booths in Harlem.

The ads were created by Wieden + Kennedy studio. You can see more in the series here. None are as overtly homophobic but all of them play upon how awful it is that a man’s face might be close to another man’s crotch.

(via the gay recluse and queerty)


  1. Derrick from Philly says

    Juvenile? Yes. Homophobic? Maybe? Anti-gay? No. These ads are about heterosexual men caught touching and smelling each others sweaty bat wings and funky booties. They are to try that special deodorant powder we talked about the other day.

    And they’ve only been seen in Harlem? Where, in Bill Clinton’s neighborhood?

  2. Rikard says

    I have boycotted Nike for years. They were under pressure to account for the mistreatment of workers in their third world factories and flatly refused to comment or give any sense they cared. Their high paid spokes person, pillar of humanity, icon of virtue (dripping with sarcasm) Michael Jordan was asked in a press conference about it. Jordan, devoted father and christian said “That’s not my part of the business”. I guess me meant that cashing big checks is HIS part of the business.

  3. says

    Hey Derrick from Philly, how can something be “maybe” homophobic but not anti-gay? (Tip: It can’t!) These ads play on the idea that two men touching is disgusting. They reinforce that notion.

    Not only can you see more of the series in Andy’s link, you can also leave a comment.

  4. crispy says

    Jesus H. Christ!

    The athletes in these ads are being dunked on… that’s what sucks for them. Not crotches in their face. In several of the pictures, the other players’ knees and even their feet are in their faces.

  5. says

    If it’s homophobic to laugh at somebody getting nutchucked during a (staged) basketball game, then I’m more homophobic than I thought.

    Also: I’m a little turned on/intrigued about the photoshoot for the ad. I’d have loved to hear the casting agent explain it to the models beforehand….

  6. says

    You know, this doesn’t affect me in the least bit (other than making me angry) because I have not bought anything from stupid Nike since Eminem and Nike, Inc. joined forces.

    Don’t buy Nike crap anymore. They’ll get the message.

  7. the queen says

    perhaps i am missing the point since i don’t understand basketball at all but i find the images very homoerotic which supports my working theory that sports have always been the perfect opportunity and socially acceptable way for straight (or is it “straight”) men to smell each others sweaty batwings and booties (thank you miss derrick)which may or may not lead to further encounters in or out of the locker room.

  8. says

    This is the comment i just left over there, and thought i would leave it here too:

    wow, settle down…this isn’t homophobic in the slightest! i am a gay guy AND a designer AND a photographer, and the only problem i have with these ads is that i didn’t take the pictures or come up with the design myself.
    how is dunking on some dude homophobic? should players get tossed out of games if they react badly to getting hit in the face with someone’s crotch? i think the point here is that it just sucks when this happens, and i am pretty sure it is just a cheap shot on the other players part.
    i am so sick of all this PC crap. pretty soon we are going to live in this bland colorless society where people aren’t allowed to talk or have opinions or, god forbid, have a reaction to an unpleasant experience.
    settle the hell down. i was made fun of in elementary school, and high school and college and every single chance that a bigot or homophobe crosses my path. and i sure as hell didn’t cringe when i saw this ad.
    this kind of attitude only furthers people’s negative attitude towards us as gays.
    and as a gay man, i can tell you, i have no desire to live in a world that bends to my every impulsive thought. what a non-challenging world that would be, and what a sad, boring, sterilized human race we would have then.

  9. SM says

    For those who wish to have their voices heard at Nike HQ regarding your feelings about this ad campaign,letters may be sent to:

    Mr. Mark Parker, President
    Nike World Headquarters
    One Bowerman Drive
    Beaverton, OR 97005

  10. Alan says

    This is why gay people will never get respect from straights, because many gays are pussies when it comes to standing up and saying F-you, it seems homophobic so take that sht down! Even if it can be taken as as a 2 on a scale of 1 to 10 homophobic, gays need to stand TOGETHER.

  11. says

    Dude, I don’t know if any of you have played basketball recently, but one works up quite a sweat in the process, and getting dunked on in such a way that the other guy’s crotch ends up in your face would be not only a surprisingly scented affair, but also would be a bit humiliating. And frankly, that ain’t right…

  12. Michael Bedwell says

    Would someone please call the EPA and ask for an emergency test on the water you guys are drinking? If what “ain’t right” is dunking on someone then the person wearing the Nikes [in this ad and all the others] is in the wrong—why would an advertiser send THAT message? The actual message is as old and primitive as living in caves: “‘real men’ [as in those smart/butch enough to buy Nikes] are the dominant ones. Those they dominate are not men.”

    I suggest y’all write the majority of those who commented on the agency’s site who agree that their campaign is transparently built upon cheap homophobia and ask them where they get THEIR water. All except for JT, of course, who echoes his idiocy here there.

    No wonder we’re still second class citizens.

  13. Stan says

    This is not homophobic. Unfortunately this is somewhat of a culture clash because most gay men don’t understand sports. Sorry, but it’s true. This has nothing to do with homophobia and everything to do with competition.

  14. ugotmeinsd_619 says

    Hi Andy, I love your website. I have to disagree with you regarding the Nike Advertisement…I don’t find this homophobic at all. If you look at the ENTIRE series it is telling a story. We cannot pick one snapshot and make the assumption that it’s homophobic or anti-gay without looking at the entire series. This is what the holy rollers do when they quote the bible to us, they take ONE sentence and exclude the entire paragraph.

  15. says

    Precisely, Mr. Bedwell. Professional sports is wildly homophobic. This is a very simple fact. But the “straight-acting/straight-appearing” who post in here would rather die than admit it. Instead they attack the rest of us.

  16. Dan E says

    Good Lord. “That ain’t right” has specific meaning within the context of sports; it basically means that you just got crushed, owned, used, destroyed; pick the verb of your choice. So yea, a lot of you are clearly demonstrating your ignorance of sports culture by calling it homophobic.

    When someone jumps so high they are basically going over your head and you’ve been caught flat-footed in basketball, well, that ain’t right.

    Context matters. You don’t get to invent your own context when one already exists, at least not without making a good faith effort to understand the context that’s already there.

    But I’m sure many will continue to decry the homophobia without trying to understand the cultural context these images are coming from. Wonderful!

  17. says

    I don’t understand b-ball(and that has nothing to do with my gayness, STAN),but “that ain’t right” part is feeding into the fear that “straight” men have with each other’s crotches, regardless of what the “rules” of basketball are. Period! Homophobic? By definition, yes!!

  18. JohnInManhattan says

    Geez Louise, so many shithead apologists here on Towleroad today. This Nike advertisement says that a man’s face in another man’s crotch “ain’t right”. Yet you idiots attempt to spin the ad as doing nothing more than highlighting an offensive move in basketball. I’d laugh if your responses weren’t so pathetic and depressing.

  19. says

    my drinking water is just fine, thank you.
    wow, it amazes me that you got all of that from the ad. as a designer, i love the fact that people stand around my ad and look for all the nuances that are probably not there. (as a quick interpretation, i was taking the “that ain’t right” in the same context of some of the other tags, slightly sarcastic and “trash talking” of sorts)
    i guess the safest thing would to have ads that are just white backgrounds with text that has been sent to everyone in the world for approval. although, we probably shouldn’t use white backgrounds. or black ones. probably rainbow backgrounds would be best, since it covers everyone, right? and it is gay friendly. although that would probably offend the religious people of the world, so we shouldn’t do that (although they shouldn’t have the right to be offended by stuff like we do, right? or at least mention that it upsets them. and if they do, we should yell at them and tell them they are wrong as loudly as we can.) and i guess the copy should be in every language known to man. we wouldn’t want to leave anyone out. and it should be all gender neutral, of course. and it should be placed in every neighborhood and town in the world, because again, we wouldn’t want to leave anyone out.
    and David, i highly doubt anyone would confuse me with someone who is straight acting. i think the minute i realized i liked dick, i crossed the line from straight acting to pretty damn gay. i don’t think a blind person…sorry, sight-impaired person, would confuse me for a straight man. i have had just as hard a time in life as any of you who are doing all the policing of ads, and somehow i have managed to realize the difference between this ad campaign and the blatantly homophobic snickers ad with Mr. T that andy referred to earlier today. THAT is the ad you should all be focused on. not this.
    i am not saying homophobia doesn’t exist in sports…it obviously does. and i am certainly not saying that there are no homophobic ads…all i am saying is that this sure as shit isn’t one of them.

  20. bryand says

    This is not homophobic. Stop whining about the inconsequential.

    Some queens need to get over themselves, it’s not all about you all the time…the whiners are probably just jealous that they’re not getting T-bagged by a big old basketball player..

  21. says

    So derrick I see you had your Koolaid this morning. You managed somehow to get a Clinton slam in a totally unrelated thread. Wow, and the Hillary folks should , “let it go”?

    Just pokin’ at ya u still my boo. lol

    Btw, I’ve never bought Nike products, they’re ugly and worn by people I don’t really have an affinity with/for much like A&F. And don’t get me started on their whole system of production/enslavement.

    And if you have a social conscious you should also try to avoid American Apparel (that’s really hard I know), they make it a point to hire illegal aliens, yet, I’ve been to their factory and 95% roughly of their mgmt are white. There’s nothing wrong with that at all except that the serial molester who runs that company makes a big deal about how he’s helping poor people (as long as they aren’t poor blacks or whites who might demand some rights)and our immigration laws should be ignored (he’s not even an American, btw). Which really is a cover for hiring illegal aliens as serfs.

  22. says

    wow, JOHNINMANHATTAN, i take it you went to my photoblog, and deduced from that that i am not a designer? and wait, i’m sorry, i am a shithead for having an opinion different from yours?
    i am so happy you had the balls to say something, otherwise i might have gone through my life thinking i wasn’t a shithead and was a designer.
    exactly what about my site leads you to think i am a shithead?
    and i would like to point out that up until this point, i haven’t made any personal attacks on anyone. again, that was started by someone else. way to respect other people, way to have an open dialogue and promote discussion. way to acknowledge that people have opinions that are valid, even if they aren’t your own.

  23. ATLSteve says

    Count me in the camp that thinks this is much ado about nothing. Some gurls get their feathers ruffled about *everything* – must be tough to go through life that way.

    I’m a huge college b’ball fan (UNC grad.) – see Danny Green’s dunk jumping over Greg Paulus – pretty much the shot here. Everyone who hates dook* (which is everyone) made similar remarks but it had nothing to do with homophobia. Of course Paulus is a total little twit.

  24. Derrick from Philly says

    What straight guys think of another man’s “junk” (I learned that term from reading the comments on the site where these photos came from)–what they think of having another man’s “junk” in their hetero faces is not a major concern of mine. Would we gays call our penises, testicles and perineums “junk”. Obviously, straight guys have a different view of such bodily areas, and don’t look at such intimate contact the way we do (well, officially they don’t).

    JT is right: the candy bar ad is blatantly anti-gay. This ad is for macho straight guys with the mentality of a 14 year old boy(a lot of 14 year old boys secretly do like to play with other boy’s “junk”). But it aint my thaing.

    JOHNINMANATTAN, don’t let this heatwave make you mean and evil, child. It’ll make your “junk” all sweaty.

  25. says

    JT You sir are a shitheaddesignerphotographer!

    In other words a whole new niche market! You must immediately brand yourself as such and come out with a new line of ass loosening underpants made esp for people in Manhattan!

    Wow homos! I learned more about BBall (see how quick I pick up!) in one comments section than I learned the whole time I was pretending to like to like it when I was dating this one hot guy back in the day. Honestly, if Rick Fox wasn’t playing I was sneaking looks at Elle Decor.

    Can anyone explain Rugby to me so I don’t look like a total perv at Mcfaddens pub?

  26. GlennInTucson says

    In a perfect world, there will still be masculine guys with too much testosterone who will think it’s gross to have another guys sweaty crotch in their face. I think they are Nike’s target audience here. If this ad offends you, maybe you should consider why you feel so threatened by these kind of men.

  27. Brian says

    This is political correctness run amok. Have a sense of humor, for chrissakes. If you think this ad campaign is trying to say anything at all about gays or gay sex you are suffering from a severe paranoid delusion. It’s not offensive just because you are offended. Get real.

  28. Tim says

    I have to say I, too, don’t find these all that homophobic. Kinda stupid, yes, but not all that offensive. AND, I was so impressed with the window they put on their flagship London store for Gay Pride a couple weeks back. It read:

  29. Ray says

    sorry but a certain percentage of gay men need to address their own issues with sports and feelings of inadequency. These ads are not homophobic, but many gay men, because they don’t understand sports and/or are threatened by athletes and men who do play sports are quick to lash out and scream homophobia at any instance involving straight men and sports. This is about basketball and making the shot. It’s a whole other world outside some gay men’s comfort zone. Try it sometime guys.

  30. Ray says

    sorry but a certain percentage of gay men need to address their own issues with sports and feelings of inadequency. These ads are not homophobic, but many gay men, because they don’t understand sports and/or are threatened by athletes and men who do play sports are quick to lash out and scream homophobia at any instance involving straight men and sports. This is about basketball and making the shot. It’s a whole other world outside some gay men’s comfort zone. Try it sometime guys.

  31. April says

    What a bunch of crybaby pussy’s. (No pun
    intended.) There is nothing wrong with this add, it’s just funny. It is just nice to know that not everyone has jumped on the whole “PROMOTE THE GAY LIFESTYLE” bandwagon. Grow a set and stop bitchen about stupid stuff like this!

  32. domo says

    Aren’t we all so precious and self righteous? Andy, you’ve descended into the pathetically ridiculous with this post. I’m all for the healthy maintenance of a thin skin and the ability to call out injustice when it occurs but this is just tedious, petty and more than a little emotionally hyperbolic. Call me a cynic, but I suspect you love watching your minions carry out your misguided ill-will at the Wieden + Kennedy website, with all those homophobic remarks being made after your post was published. Wow. If only you could harness that energy for some real good.

  33. says

    John, there are always shithead apologists around here. Duh, it’s of course homophobic. I love the comment “don’t focus on the face in the crotch!” Dude, the ad was shot to MAKE you focus on it. It’s like people don’t have brains and can’t connect the dots anymore because they’re so scared of being the second worst thing anyone can ever be in the U.S.—too PC! (The worst being gay.) Ray, give me a break. If you’re going to psychoanalyze gay men as being sportsphobic and yet won’t look at the Neanderthal-easy-to-see homophobic messaging in the ads at hand, you’re deliberately overlooking it. And right, sports is amazingly non-homophobic and welcoming. We should all join the Yankees. Please, people, don’t spend so much time advocating for a company and a design firm profiting from reinforcing messages like “guys should not get too close.” That’s what gives the ad its humor, that’s why the ads were shot that way. It’s not rocket science. (I’m sure there are some gay people who thought that Mr. T ad was also funny.)

  34. says

    PS All the people taking Andy to task for calling this ad out, check out April’s comment. You’re in her camp.

    PPS Serious question: Why have several commenters said that trash talking is somehow different from homophobia? Of course, not all trash talk is anti-gay, but you know, the anti-gay trash talk is…or is that too PC?

  35. says

    Wow, ummm what is wrong with this ad? Firstly, if you view all of the ads, there is only a couple where the actual crotch is in the face. One has a player kneeing another guy, one the guy is “flying” over the other. That said, have you ever played basketball and had some guy try to dunk on you and his sweaty sack come flying at your face? No matter how gay you are, that is not a pleasant experience.

    Maybe if we’re taking this to extremes we could call these ads racist because the majority of them feature African Americans. Give me a break.

    All in all, these are far from homophobic. What is depicted in these ads is a common occurence in sports and the text in the ad references being dunked on, not the physical interaction.

  36. Michael Bedwell says

    “some gurls get their feathers ruffled about *everything*”

    “just jealous that they’re not getting T-bagged”

    “What a bunch of crybaby pussy’s. [sic] There is nothing wrong with this add, [sic] it’s just funny. It is just nice to know that not everyone has jumped on the whole “PROMOTE THE GAY LIFESTYLE” [sic] bandwagon. Grow a set and stop bitchen [sic] about stupid stuff like this!”

    “so precious”

    “feelings of inadequency”

    “basically means that you just got crushed, owned, used”

    Thanks Porch Faggots, for [unintentionally] proving my point.

  37. Derrick from Philly says

    Ok, MATTHEW,

    yeah, April’s appearance here did disturb me….slightly. It’s like having a Klansman take sides in a fight between black people.


    maybe we should let NIKE know about the homophobic under/overtones in these ads. But my point is: I can’t do a damn thing about the mentality of heterosexual men when it comes to physical touching/feeling/closeness between men. And I don’t care. They think it’s unmanly or nasty or weak to have another man’s “junk” in their face. How the hell can we change that insecure macho view?

    Frankly, I can’t stomach the idea of having a woman’s couchee in my face(unless I was a woman too). I aint proud of that, and I don’t want to broadcast it, but it’s true. I’m gay…believe or not.

    Damn, you never which threads will take off and have such a shelf life.

    I don’t want no basketball player’s “junk” in my face either… not before he’s been in the shower.

    And it would be a football player anyway…more beef, less bat wings.

  38. Please says

    and of ‘course Miss Bedwell opinions mean sooo much more than everyone else because he threw the first diet pepsi bottle at stonewall. please.

  39. soithoni says

    OK. If we’re choosin’ up sides for a rumble, I’m with JT. 69 snaps *UP* for JT and his argument. This ad is not homophobic. Not even a trace. It’s anti-junk-in-the-face, it’s athletic supremeness, it’s some guy saying in the first or second comment on the Nike site: “These are tight. Where do I buy the poster.” Buy Nike and get above your competition (every other man sweatin’ in your damn face!) – it’s a crock, but it’s *advertising* with subliminal messaging, you get that? But homophobic subliminal messaging? Are you NUTS?
    And, JohninManhattan, yes, I’ll defend to the death your *right* to call anybody a name, but if you do it again, I’m gonna halfta bash you up the side of your stupidass HEAD!!!! It is such a burden seeming to be perfect, isn’t it John? Except when you’re dead wrong! Just stop spoutin’ trash. Stupid Ass.

  40. RobbieP says

    If this ad generates this much acrimony and disagreement among people, then I think it might be safe to say that the ad agency scores an EPIC FAIL for getting a clear message across.

  41. says

    I don’t know. That image just almost made me break out into hives. I grew up in a predominantly Latino neighborhood and straight guys of color who play (or are into) sports freak me out. About 99% of the guys who called me faggot in the hallways in junior high or laughed at me in gym class probably fit the demographic of this ad. I don’t care if it’s dunking, or trash talking, or whatever. I’ve never played nor never will play basketball (unless it’s with pre-teens since I’m built like a Keebler elf), but I don’t know how anyone can ignore the fact that players often demoralize each other by using homoerotic gestures. This is no exception. It is a move designed to emasuculate by implying homoerotic contact. And this ad just calls even more attention to it.

    I don’t care if you call me sportsphobic or insecure or whatever. But I’m sure I’m not the only one who has a gut response to seeing the content of these ads and knowing who they’re being marketed towards and having a million horrible memories about being picked on, bullied and/or beat up . . . and that, in my book, ain’t right. And it also ain’t right to poke fun of or belittle any gay person who is made uncomfortable by this sort of imagery.

  42. bryan says

    i’m not personally offended by these ads…taken out of context, it may appear that there are homophobic undertones to the ads, if one is willing to really dig deep and project internalized homophobia onto everything around him…but to me, it seems more like what’s being referred to as “not right” in these ads is the fact that the one opponent is able to jump so high…not necessarily the fact that his crotch is in the other man’s face…seems more like digging for something that is not really there…

  43. Bob Jones says

    Michael Bedwell thinks the Nike advertisements are not OK but thinks calling fellow gay men “porch faggots” is OK.

    Thank you, Michael, you have [unintentionally] made an ass of yourself.

  44. matt b says

    its not homophobic at all, if you know how the sport is played then you know you, nomatter if you are gay or straight, that you do not want to be scored upon with a guy jumping over you. It’s all about being scored upon.

  45. banjiboi says

    I just recently passed through a train station in NYC where all of the ads
    lined both sides of a long walkway. One side had images of the face in
    crotch shots while each poster carried words which added up to the phrase:

    “Your Mama Is Not Gonna Let You Come Home After This (The “After This”
    poster has the image of full on face-in -crotch shot) What Is She Going To
    Say To The Neighbors?”

    The other wall has images of the same with sayings like “No Bueno” and
    another face-in-crotch shot with the blurb, “EWWWW”.

    Personally, I think Nike’s trying to have it both ways. And ultimately, I
    find the ads to be homophobic, but because of the ambiguity of some of the
    images, which in most places are not strung together for full context, I
    think it’ll pass without much scrutiny. And say what you will, the campaign
    accomplished what it has aimed for – effectiveness.

    As for those who say that they don’t understand why some people see or look
    for things that are not there, the same can be said about those who do NOT
    see what others see. Perhaps your perception is lacking, not to say that it
    is. Art, after all is subjective. That’s the beauty of it. So rather than
    attack others for what they see by insinuating that they’re paranoid or
    looking for opposition which I find to be rather juvenile really, why don’t
    you just embrace the differences of opinion and perception. Who says we’re
    all supposed to think alike anyway?

  46. Ryan says

    Looks like the people that actually play basketball get this ad. I’m gay and a basketball player and I would not want to be dunked in with someone else’s crotch in my face. Period. Even if I were well acquainted with said gentlemen’s crotch beforehand.

  47. Manny says

    I think Alex (unintentionally) summed up the feelings that a lot gay guys have but don’t want to admit. Many of you were teased as kids and this type of in your face sports image takes you back to those days of insecurity and feelings of inadequacy. Listen, we get it, the school yard was tough. But remember, it was tough for the fat kid, the nerd, the misfit and basically EVERYBODY. That’s what school is. Some of us gays actually played sports, so we get what this poster is really about. Without being too harsh to the Alex’s of the world, but you really need to let it go. If you’re over the age of say, 25, u need to speak to a therapist.

    all in all, this poster is so far from homophobic it’s kinda sad. As gay men we can’t always stay trapped by the memories of high school. Life is much much more complex than that.

  48. Erik says

    The thing about advertising in public spaces is that it is impossible to strictly advertise to one particular group. So maybe these adverts aren’t particularly homophobic to those with intimate b-ball knowledge, they are displayed in public where your average joe WILL see this as a comment towards gay sex. Thus these ads are VERY homophobic. Definitely will not be buying Nikes any time soon.

  49. banjiboi says

    @ Erik


    The comments here are all focused on the gay perspective, thus missing the real focus of the campaign’s true intent, which is to appeal to straight males 15 – 35! This campaign was not structured mainly for gay men! That what I meant when I said that Nike wants to have it both ways.

    These ads are posted in many high-risk areas of the city, like Harlem, Brooklyn and the Bronx, most of which are highly populated with young, unsophisticated, macho hetero males, hence the ghettospeak phrases, “No Beuno”, and “That Ain’t Right”.
    And let’s keep it real, kiddies, these areas are not known for their tolerance of gay issues, feel me?

    So while we here at TR dissect, nitpick, bitch and toss all the catty asides we want, trust me, somewhere in the city a group of youmg teen/young adult males are standing in a group pointing and laughing at the ad exclaiming, “Look at the shit, man. That’s some sick ass shit, Yo! Look at shit in his grill, son! Faggot-ass, shit, man!”

  50. soithoni says

    Dear “David Ehrenstein”(do I do the sign for quotation marks with both hands when I type your name? Or do I just genuflect?),
    attacking my bona fides as a cocksucker, or whom I suck, or how well, is not the issue here. It’s how assinine it is to see something in an ad that isn’t there, or in my opinion isn’t there. Having opinions are still allowed, aren’t they, in your world? Or have you permanently put the brown shirt on? Seeing homophobia in that ad is seeing ghosts where none exist. [My name is from the Middle French saying, by the way: “honi soit qui mal y pense” And I’m sure reading Middle French is a snap for you. Ass.

  51. whatever says

    Anyone who finds offense in this needs to get over themselves. You are all making me embarrassed to be gay. Seriously, grow a set and stop your whiney whiney whining. If you want a sweaty ass in your face fine, but please think of the rest of us who see this as what it is (and that would be, for you insular chelsea cry babies, fun and relevant sports marketing). GO NIKE.

  52. Kyle Michel Sullivan says

    I posted a complaint on the ad agency’s website and got this e-mail from Desmond Marzette at WK
    You’re pretty upset…about that Nike Hyperdunk campaign huh? Do you really feel that its homophobic? Just for my own curiosity if you don’t mind… Do you play basketball? Big hoops fan?

    Writer, Hyperdunk campaign
    I give ’em props for asking. This was my response.
    Yes, Dez, I do. I know the campaign’s intention — using slam-dunks and trash talk to make Nikes seem cool. But to me the image of one man’s face being forced into another man’s crotch with the words “That ain’t right” plastered over it sends another very clear message — one I’m surprised anyone feels they can defend (especially in the advertising world, where words and images are known to have extensive power beyond their initial intention). Do you really think it’s okay to send out the message that one man performing fellatio on another man is wrong? Because — whether you like it or not — that is what part of this ad campaign is very strongly suggesting. And I ain’t the only one noticing, as was obvious from the comments on the site and the blogs I read.
    The fact is, the imagery and the words in the “That ain’t right” ad subliminally reinforce the notion that two men being together is wrong. And considering how many gay people get beaten up and/or killed for no more reason than they’re gay, to perpetuate that idea really does fall under the category of “That ain’t right.”

  53. says

    I have no opinion on the ad.

    I do have an opinion on the term “porch faggot”. That’s a way over the top insult. I’m sure all (or at least most) Black people know where that came from. That’s really ugly. I have been complaining about the PC bent of a lot of folks here for awhile. I have been called a repug troll and an idiot because I didn’t go along with the groupthink of the Obama crowd (who, btw, I am volunteering for to make sure a democrat takes the whitehouse). If we are going to jump down everyones throat when they don’t have the majority view we’re just a bunch of fascists.

    And the remarks about women are really stupid. I have hooked several of my friends who are straight and several females on this site. Today I’m embarrassed for the site and the “community”. How dare you bigots so thoroughly disrespect women? Some of you remind me of people who have black friends but would never invite them to your moms house over the holidays. I bet most people here have a Grace to their Will, no fuck it, I bet you jerks have a faghag who’s been there for you cause you needed a friend but yet you don’t want her to share in this site because she has a Couche or whatever dumbass, pussy fearing word you want to use. Why don’t you just get a Burkha for the bitch?


  54. Alex says

    “I think Alex (unintentionally) summed up the feelings that a lot gay guys have but don’t want to admit. Many of you were teased as kids and this type of in your face sports image takes you back to those days of insecurity and feelings of inadequacy. Listen, we get it, the school yard was tough. But remember, it was tough for the fat kid, the nerd, the misfit and basically EVERYBODY. That’s what school is. Some of us gays actually played sports, so we get what this poster is really about. Without being too harsh to the Alex’s of the world, but you really need to let it go. If you’re over the age of say, 25, u need to speak to a therapist.”

    Manny, I think that’s unfair. Advertising is PURPOSELY designed to trigger these sort of emotional responses in us in order to purchase the product. These people are not dumb. They analyze every image and copy combination to death. There is no way someone can’t tell me they didn’t see the homoerotic intent of the ad campaign.

    And furthermore, I have seen a therapist and I don’t go around being freaked out by straight guys . . . or any straight guy of color, despite being continually harassed by them on the street and once recently attacked by a gang of the types of men who these ads target. I think it’s very irresponsible to say “get over it.” I think anyone who has experienced that kind of harassment has every right to their feelings.

    I also detect a certain type of offensive gender construct speak in these posts–“stop being a cry baby,” “grow a pair,” etc. Precisely the sort of thing boys are told from infancy. This is something I always felt the gay movement should be part of combatting and yet here we are spouting the same sort of shit to each other.

  55. I Heart Ryan Reynolds says

    Dan E, you’re the one who’s ignoring cultural context. Ever heard of oral sex? One man has his face buried DEEP in another man’s crotch. That is an instantly recognizable suggestion of oral sex. And then there are the words “That Ain’t Right” superimposed on the image. In case you haven’t heard, some members of our society exercise a lot of energy trying to get out the message that sex between men ain’t right. Then there is the sporting context: Yep, the image is inspired by trash talk, but as others here have pointed out, most trash talk is either explicitly or implicitly homophobic. It’s about domination. Especially in a macho environment, the ultimate no-no is for one man to be dominated by another man. In that context, most would say that sucking a man’s dick is the ultimate (or maybe penultimate) act of submission. That’s what the ad is about: Wear Nike, get the competitive edge, make other men your bitches, make them suck your dick, dominate them! And in case you haven’t put two and two together, Dan, when those athletes are dissing one another for being submissive, they are implicitly saying that gay men are weak and inferior, since most gay men give head to other men. Dan, I don’t know why you and the rest of the apologists are so intent on telling the rest of us that we don’t see what we see. Franky, your analysis is lazy and naive.

  56. Pulease says

    Do you really think it’s okay to send out the message that one man performing fellatio on another man is wrong? Because — whether you like it or not — that is what part of this ad campaign is very strongly suggesting

    Kyle, did u REALLY send out this email? really? you know they are STILL LAUGHING at niketown right?

    i somehow doubt the marketing team at nike is well acquainted with “fellatio” (as opposed to cocksucking which is what they’re saying amid the burst of laughter)

  57. Dan E says

    I Heart–

    I have no question that you see what you see. I just question whether it’s actually there. I’m prone to interpret the ads in terms of their context (sports) not mine (being gay); since I’m pretty aware of both contexts, I certainly understand where you’re coming from. I just don’t think you’re right.

    What I find most interesting is that the people who think these ads are homophobic are so violently and virulently insulting; “porch faggot” “homophobia apologists” “lazy and naive.” Yes, it couldn’t possibly be the case that there’s a valid difference of opinion going on here. Disagree with me and you are a, oh, what was it, “Gay Gym Nazi.”

    Yea, well, um, I try not to argue with people whose only recourse is ad hominem attacks. I certainly understand the basis for your interpretation; I just think that the fact people are reading these ads as homophobic tells us more about them than the ads.

    But hey, please continue to insult and disparage people with a different opinion from yours; it shows me nearly everything I need to know about my interlocutors.

  58. I Heart Ryan Reynolds says

    Dan, I said your analysis was lazy and naive. That’s not a personal attack; that’s a description of the argument you made. And, indeed, your argument is literally an apology on behalf of Nike (in the sense of an excuse), so again it’s inaccurate call that a personal attack. And I’ll point out that your rebuttal is logically inadequate because it does not address the argument that I made which explains why the ad seems homophobic. You make the conclusory statement that the ad doesn’t support my interpretation, but you don’t actually make an argument for why it doesn’t. Instead, you attempt to lump my argument in with the people who used terms like “porch faggot.” THAT’S ad hominem, and it’s inaccurate. Beyond that, I’ll stand by my original argument since you haven’t actually provided a logical counterargument.

  59. Just Sayin' says

    I think the point here is that there is no LOGICAL argument you can make. It’s interpretive. People who know and play basketball see it within the context of sports, specifically competition on the courts. Those who don’t understand basketball or play, view it purely in terms of their “gayness” and refuse to accept it as anything else. Extracting one piece of an entire campaign and viewing it as an isolated piece is really short-sighted. Nobody has PROVEN it’s homophobic, but rather some gays have stated why the feel is could be interpreted as such. This is clearly a clash between, dare i say it, more athletic sports oriented gays and the non-athletes. Hopefully Nike won’t cave in.

  60. Derrick from Philly says


    I understand your reaction to my remark about “….couldn’t stomach a couchee in my face…”. Sometimes in the heat of a debate we don’t clearly articulate what we mean to say (especially me). What I was trying to say is that we cannot expect heterosexual men to be turned on by sexual activity that we homosexuals may find acceptable (or even thrilling). So, I was using myself as an example of a homosexual who cannot be turned on by sexual activity that is perfectly accetable to HETEROSEXUALS: A man’s crotch in my face is ok. A man’s crotch in a heterosexual man’s face is not ok. A woman’s crotch in a heterosexual man’s face is ok. A woman’s crotch in my face is not ok.

    As far as the term “couchee”: it is a term used in black communities on the east coast. I have heard it used by black women. I used it in my comment because the term “junk” was being used by straight guys to describe their crotch area. It is slang. (Actually, couchee sounds better than crotch to me).

    Also, I have been a “HAGFAG” to more women than they have been “faghags” to me. I have stood by female friends and listened to their problems, gave them suggestions on their relationships. They couldn’t understand my problems, and so they couldn’t be a “real friend” to me (anymore than other homos…dammit); but that didn’t stop me from trying to help them. They just assumed I was carefree and gay in the “gay” world. Well, I aint never made it a secret that I aint. Yes, I may be one frustrated, middle-aged, bitter “queen”, but if I hate women, then I must hate men a whole lot more ’cause they can’t do a goddamned thing for….ooops. Delete that.

    Finally, my reference to Bill Clinton’s neighborhood was because of Andy’s mentioning that the ad is being tried out in Harlem. The implication being that it is being tried out on blacks–that they may find it more “appealing”. Many visitors to Towleroad don’t know that Harlem is becoming more and more white. So, it’s not just blacks that this ad is being targeted at.

    I did not mean to bring up the Democratic Primary, THEVEGASSTYLEGUY. I have not said anything negative about Senator Clinton since December– when I thought both she and Barack Obama both were fucking up the Democrats chances to win in an election year that should belong to Democrats.

    No hard feelin’s, THEVEGASTYLEGUY, but your objections to my comment seemed so sincere with disappointment that I had to respond.

  61. I Heart Ryan Reynolds says

    Just Sayin’, that is a poor argument. People can and do make rational arguments about what constitutes a reasonable interpretation. By your logic, any interpretation is equally reasonable and can’t be criticized, no matter how illogical it is. Sure you can argue for any interpretation you want, but that doesn’t mean every interpretation is persuasive. If you disagree, then try making a rational argument that the ad is really about, say, secured transactions, and you will probably have a hard time persuading anyone that your interpretation is plausible. A logical argument would be to say that the ad means something, and then to make logically valid points supporting that interpretation. An illogical argument would be to support your interpretation with flawed reasoning, e.g., personal attacks.

    And your own interpretive argument is just a personal attack: “If you think this ad is homophobic, it is because you are not an athlete.” That is an irrational argument. And it’s also bizarre. You have no way of knowing if somebody is athletic or whether or not they like sports based on whether or not they agree with you about how this ad is interpreted.

    Also, you are factually wrong, since the critical interpretations of this ad are not ignoring the basketball context and viewing it exclusively in terms of “their gayness.” It seems like every critical post is from somebody who gets the basketball gist of the ad. But just because the ad involves some rudimentary knowledge of basketball doesn’t mean that, magically, it can’t also be homophobic. Honestly, your interpretation is the one that ignores broader context in favor of an extremely blinkered reading of the ad. (“It’s about basketball, so it can’t having anything to do with sexuality.”)

    And by the way, you belie your own point by arguing that interpretation isn’t open to rational analysis, but then trying (though failing) make a rational argument against the interpretation that the ad is homophobic.

  62. John in Manhattan says

    “Those who don’t understand basketball or play, view it purely in terms of their “gayness” and refuse to accept it as anything else.”

    JUST SAYIN’, your internalized homophobia is just showin’. One can be athletic, gay, AND see the blatant homophobia in this ad.

    *sigh* Where’s John Amechi when you need him?

  63. Just Sayin' says


    People can and do make rational arguments about what constitutes a reasonable interpretation

    which is exactly what has been done. The problem is that many gays refuse to see anything other than their own “it’s homophobic” rather than understand there is another interpretation based on knowledge of the game.

    But just because the ad involves some rudimentary knowledge of basketball doesn’t mean that, magically, it can’t also be homophobic. Honestly, your interpretation is the one that ignores broader context in favor of an extremely blinkered reading of the ad. (“It’s about basketball, so it can’t having anything to do with sexuality.”)

    Precisely my point. Many gays on here have no knowledge of basketball or sports (if you scroll through the comments, many admit as much) and even one poster admitting it brought back bad memories of high school bullying etc. Many look at the picture, see two men, add in a crotch and voila, it’s instantly sexual. Whereas straight men are not looking at this poster and seeing anything other than a dunk. And remember, this is ONE picture in an entire campaign/series. Talk about missing the broader context. Had this one shot been the ENTIRE campaign, you might have a point, but it’s not. You’re missing the big picture.

    and nobody said it wasn’t open to rational analysis. The point is that isn’t JUST ONE analysis to be made. You want to see one perspective, make a few points about why YOU see it that way and that’s it. Wrong, change the paradigm in which you view any situation or in this case, visual art, and you will always get another equally valid interpretaion. You’re simply refusing to allow for that, which is my point (one you’re proving again and again)

  64. banjiboi says


    First off, I find your usage of the term “many gays” to be quite odd – it’s almost like you’re not connected to gay sensibilities, which is fine, just sayin’….

    But moving on. Who are you to assume or proclaim that in order to make a valid observation these ads, one must be an avid sports lover? Or that those who disagree with your (rather pedestrian, I might add)analysis, must be suffering from some underlying issues with their own gayness? For the record, basketball or any other sports concept is not that hard for me to grasp – and I don’t follow sports.

    You seem to spend a lot of time engaging in redundant doublespeak regarding the interpretive process, all the while I feel that you’re the one who’s missing the big picture. Perhaps you should note that most of the cons here are focusing also on the VERBIAGE that accompanies the images,a You’re basing your rebuttals on you’re small minded belief that all we’re looking at is the image of a face in a crotch and making a purely emotion response. Please take the time to scour around, research and look at the ENTIRE ad campaign, and again, attempt to interpret what the campagn is saying in a literal sense. If you still disagree, fine. But please don’t insult my intelligence by insisting that you’ve made any type of thorough analysis of this subject. Or that anybody here who disagrees with you has or is not able to do so.

    Thank you.

    Oh, and to IHEART RYAN REYNOLDS, I totally agree with you.

  65. I Heart Ryan Reynolds says

    Just Sayin':

    1. You did indeed say interpertation can’t be argued logically, and you even made an argument to that effect. You should just admit you’re backing away from that losing point, instead of pretending that’s not what you said. Not exactly a good-faith argument.

    2. You keep implying that we wouldn’t think the ad was homophobic if we knew more about basketball. I think I know enough about basketball to get the point. It seems like the ad doesn’t require any deep knowledge of the sport. But since you disagree, then perhaps you could use your specialized knowledge of basketball to explain how the ad isn’t homophobic. Other posters have made similar claims, but none of them have actually lent us their penetrating insight into basketball, they’ve only referenced the more common-knowledge aspects of the sport.

    3. The reference to oral sex seems like it would be crystal clear, even to a non-gay basketball player. The typical dunk does not involve burying your face in a man’s crotch. The typical blow job does. Even most people with stupendous basketball insight can recognize a reference to oral sex. So I don’t think a reasonable person would deny that there’s a sexual subtext, whether or not they have a deep interest in basketball.

    4. Not sure why you think we have to deny our own persectives when we approach this ad. Sure it’s great to look at things from various perspectives, that doesn’t mean that every perspective comes from an equally well-reasoned place or demonstrates an equally complete understanding. Certainly an anti-gay Christian who gets the subtext wouldn’t say the ad was homophobic; they’d say that oral sex ain’t right, so the ad just affirms what God says. By your logic, I would have to adopt their perspective and say that the ad isn’t homophobic. But in any case, see #3, as it is pretty clear that from the perspective of anyone who knows about oral sex, the ad is a sexual reference. So even from the perspective of a heterosexual basketball player, the ad would be reasonably understood as having a homophobic subtext.

    5. For the last time, it is an unfounded personal attack to argue that the posters who disagree with you are unathletic and don’t know anything about basketball. I think read one person’s comments about being bullied by athletes. I didn’t make any such comments, nor did most of the rest of us, so it makes no sense to say that we think the ad is homophobic because we resent athletes. Frankly, I find it hard to believe that you are arguing this point in good faith, as its illogic is as obvious as it gets.

    6. Seeing this ad in the context of the whole campaign might shed some light on the meaning of the ad. But to a certain extent the ad seems to speak for itself. It seems pretty crass, and I doubt that the rest of the campaign would lead one to believe that this picture isn’t homophobic. (In fact, other posters who have seen the whole campaign are suggesting that some of the other pictures are even worse.) But if you think the whole-campaign context gives this picture a radically different meaning, then perhaps you should share your analysis with us and maybe a link to the whole campaign, instead of just saying the campaign might lead us to interpret it differently.

    6. Banjiboi, thanks for the support. Good call on his arguments being doublespeak.

  66. says

    It is of no small amusement to me that the only place I have seen this ad, or any of the ads in this particular campaign, is on this site. I could have conceivably lived and died without ever seeing or knowing about this ad, its “blatant…unless it’s not” homophobia and the greater implications it has for my life as a gay man if it weren’t for it being decried here, on a notable gay website, along with a 90+ comment thread discussing it like Potter Stewart at a Mapplethorpe exhibit.

    I don’t know if it’s exactly ironic, but it sure has given me a good laugh.

  67. I Heart Ryan Reynolds says

    That is an amusing observation. So Nike creates homophobic ads and the consequence is that it raises awareness of the Nike brand w/in the gay community? I want to puke.

  68. I Heart Ryan Reynolds says

    That is an amusing observation. So Nike creates homophobic ads and the consequence is that it raises awareness of the Nike brand w/in the gay community? I want to puke.

  69. Derrick says

    This is foolish. This is not remotely homophobic. When a person get’s dunked on and the crowd goes “Oooo! That ain’t right” nobody is thinking, “Yeah what they really mean is That’s not right to be gay.” This debate is ridiculous.

    the other adds have the following sayings:

    “Punks Jump Up”
    “Now you Know!”
    “Say Hello!”

    Where is the reference to homosexuality in any of these. Hell if this is related to homosexuality “Now you know” could be considered pro homosexuality. Maybe they are saying, “We’re here were queer, get used to it.”

    To spend time of nonsense issues like this does nothing but minimize real issues in the game community like housing discrimination, equal access to home loans, employment discrimination, violence against gay people. Way too much time is wasted on Nonsense fabricated issues like this.

  70. mike says

    I saw these in the subway station at West 4th and I said, “Where can I get these!” So, um, I don’t know what that makes me. I didn’t think they were “homophobic” or “anti-gay” at all. I thought it was about one player getting burned by another with a spectacular dunk play. I guess I need to sensitize myself a little bit more, right? Everyone here thinks this ad campaign is homophobic. I wonder what I’m missing.

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