Madison Square Garden Thinks ‘Real Men’ Don’t Dance in Homophobic Ad

1 Nov

It’s no secret that there’s some homophobia in professional sports, but the tide is turning. With pro athlete heroes like footballers Brendan Ayabendejo and Chris Kluwe, wrestler Hudson Taylor, Hockey player Sean Avery and dozens more speaking out for marriage equality, we can see things are changing.

However, for every few steps forward, there has to be a step back. Madison Square Garden, home of the New York Knicks has released a new ad being seen on phone booths in New York City. The ad reads:

“It’s Friday night. You can either see a Broadway harness malfunction or you can watch real men fly.”

Yes, there’s a little dig at Spiderman in there (a little two years ago, but I digress). But take a look at the next part of the ad where it clearly claims that people who work on Broadway aren’t “real men.”

The insinuation that someone who spends a few months a year throwing a ball in a hoop is any more of a man than someone who does 8 shows a week literally breaking their backs as they do their acrobatics on a stage is not only insulting, but it’s utterly false.

As a kid who grew up doing musicals, seeing an ad like this would have hurt me. Gay kids out there who happen to be attracted to something other than athletics are putting up with enough bullying from their peers and in many cases their families. They don’t need it from Madison Square Garden too.

As New York has seen enough trouble this past week, let’s hope MSG quickly issues an apology and pulls down their homophobic ad.

In conversations about this, I’ve found a few people don’t find anything offensive about this. One friend even advised that we shouldn’t get upset about this and we should instead wait until some NBA player calls someone a “fag” and no one does anything about it. The problem with this argument is that when the phrase “Real Man” is used as a pejorative against another person, it is nearly always the same thing as calling someone a “fag.” Everytime that phrase has been used to insult someone in the last 50 years, it has been to question someone’s masculinity and/or their sexuality. That’s why I think this is important to point out. This is essentially the same as an NBA Player shouting “fag” at someone, except this time it’s on a phone booth in New York and no one is saying anything about it.

After some calls to Madison Square Garden, I’ve found it’s an ad for MSG Networks and I’ll update you when I receive a response.

h/t to Richard Roland, who took the photos.

14 Responses to “Madison Square Garden Thinks ‘Real Men’ Don’t Dance in Homophobic Ad”

  1. matt November 1, 2012 at 11:30 am #

    is there a website, or phone number that people can call and complain?

    • Jamie McGonnigal November 1, 2012 at 11:35 am #

      I’ll let you know when we get an answer. All the consumer lines put you on perpetual hold because of cancelled shows, etc due to the hurricane. Once I hear back, if they don’t do the right thing, I’ll release the hounds.

  2. Deborah November 1, 2012 at 11:30 am #

    Thank you for taking action!!! I should have known that we could count on you!

  3. P November 1, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

    As a gay man, I REALLY think the intention of this ad is fully about Spiderman, who is not real and need a harness, vs a real person who can appeae to fly based athletic prowess. I think aftet being bullied and discriminated against for so long, we tend to jump to action on things thatbwe are misinterpreting. If we are going to look at an ad and not even entertain the idea that its not homophobic, rather than trying to find homophobia everywhere, then we are going to find it everywhere. If someone in a fast food ad says they don’t like limp fries, can we then say that the limp fry is obviously a gay slur about gays being limp wristed and not worthy enough for hetero fry consumption? Bit of a leap there, huh? But that is something that is on the same level as this ad.

    • Jamie McGonnigal November 1, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

      Hey Patrick, thanks for the comment. I disagree though. If the ad had said “See men really fly,” it would have been a completely different ad. Since it says (in big bold letters,”REAL MEN FLY” it’s saying something quite different. Saying a french fry is limp and that someone who flies on broadway is not a real man are two very different things. The limp fry analogy I agree would be a huge leap. This is not.

    • Ohjeezdude November 5, 2012 at 7:55 pm #

      That comparison is nothing like this ad. This ad questions the masculinity of real men who work on Broadway. Its stupid and degrading and youre an idiot.

  4. Ray November 1, 2012 at 12:17 pm #

    thanks for bringing this ad to our attention. please let us know what we can do. facebooked & tweeted this picture to get awareness out there. NOT COOL

  5. MC (@thecoffeeparty_) November 1, 2012 at 12:23 pm #

    I think you can first call
    New York
    Van Wagner Communications, LLC.
    800 Third Avenue,28th Floor
    New York, NY 10022
    Tel: 212.699.8400
    Fax: 212.986.0927

    They are the ones that ‘house’ the ad – which means they will know which ad agency MADE the ad. You want to call the advertising agency (as that is how the NBA hired to come up with the ad – although the NBA obviously approved it).

    • Jamie McGonnigal November 1, 2012 at 12:28 pm #

      Thanks. It’s actually a Madison Square Garden Networks ad and not an NBA ad. We’ve gotten that far, but thanks for your research!!!

  6. Ray November 1, 2012 at 1:11 pm # is the email I’ve received for their PR department! Let’s let them know how we all feel

  7. Bryan November 1, 2012 at 6:32 pm #

    Another angle that should be looked at in regards to this ad… IATSE Stagehands Local One support both Broadway and events at MSG. In addition to the insulting way this has been portrayed, it is pitting two forms of entertainment against each other, which hurts the behind the scenes workers. Local One should also come out against this!

  8. Rashon November 1, 2012 at 10:02 pm #

    I dont think this ads intent was malice but i also do not think it was fully thought out and dicussed. With that being said, basketball season is 8 months out of the year. 8 months in which the athletes see their families 3 days out of the week (if they’re lucky). The other 4 months of the year in which they are still training 5-7 days a week. So yes, 8 shows a week is tough. But what these athletes do is a little more than throwing a ball in a hoop a few months out of the year.

    • Jamie McGonnigal November 1, 2012 at 10:28 pm #

      And getting paid millions for it. Forgive me if I fail to feel compassion for those poor, put-upon professional basketball players.


  1. Madison Square Garden Apologizes, Pulls Homophobic Ads « Talk About Equality - November 7, 2012

    […] this week, we reported on an ad campaign being run by Madison Square Garden Networks. The ads were intended to get people […]

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