Thursday, February 12, 2004

Know Your Audience 

The advice of knowing your audience applies both to Legal Research & Writing and GLBT media. This message hit home this morning when I came across two different "Valentine's tips" articles on two different gay news sites.

The first was Charles "Social" Grace's "Etiquette For Lovers " which I mentioned in my last post. This is a column which addresses the GLBT community, but which contains information helpful for everyone. I've forwarded the link to several straight friends and relatives.

Then I found "Ten Tips for a Romantic and Memorable Valentine's Day" on At first it seemed like a nice little collection of ideas. I paused momentarily when they suggested a heart-shaped locket "for the woman in your life" while recommending a sterling silver ID bracelet or cufflinks "for your man." A bit traditional, and while I don't personally know any lesbians who would likely wear a heart-shaped locket or gay men who cherish their ID bracelets, I'm sure these folks are out there. I certainly don't know everyone.

My first real tip-off that perhaps this article was recycled from a source which targets the straight audience was the suggestion of personalized golf or tennis balls, or perhaps a humidor, "for the man in your life." Now, while this website is titled "LesbiaNation," they do include information for the GBT's of GLBT. But it seemed odd that an article on such a site would assume that golf balls would be the perfect gift for a man but not for a woman.

The next indicator was the two-paragraph discussion of marriage proposals with which they closed the article. I live in Massachusetts, and given that there is right now a battle being waged over whether or not I should even be allowed to marry my girlfriend (see numerous previous postings), I found this an awful reminder of the rights I don't yet have. Or that technically I have, but which are on hold until mid-May and which many folks are urging to have barred by amending our constitutionality. "Discrimination's unconstitutional? Well dagnab it, we'll make it constitutional!"

Indeed, I scrolled down to the bottom of the page, where they list the original source of the piece. "For more information, visit or call (800) 901-8758." I remember the Lillian Vernon mail order catalogues. My mother receives all the mail order catalogues (which she maintains faithfully, retaining only the most current edition of each, and then keeping them stacked alphabetically for Christmas shopping time. Which for her is in October. She's very organized. She was in the WAVES. But that's another story.). Granted, many of their products are so over the top that they could be considered campy chic (such as this, this or this), but I really don't think the readers of LesbiaNation are their target audience.

The Charles Grace article got me thinking about the weekend getaway The Girl and I are planning to my sister's vacation house in Maine. Way out in the woods, waterview, woodburning stove, jacuzzi - you get the idea. And by the way - thanks to K for the use of the place! Unfortunately, the LesbiaNation article brought me right back to the political reality of today, and led me to this rather lengthy post. I'm passing my pain on to others. Nice.

I plan on rereading the Etiquette article and returning to the romantic weekend ahead. Hopefully any mood reduction I've imposed on others will be short-lived. I'll be remembering the impact of reading something which was targeted to the wrong audience while working on my upcoming brief in support of summary judgment. Target the judge, not the jury, not my client. Target the judge, target the judge, target the judge.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:34 AM