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When it comes to advertising food, why do lesbians get yoghurt?

The Christian right in the US is upset by a yoghurt advert that features a lesbian couple. But what is it about dairy produce that says “queer”?

Yoghurt: women love it, so lesbians must double-love it, right? Photo: YouTube screengrab

It had to be yoghurt. Women love yoghurt, right? So lesbians must, like, double-love it. A new ad for American yoghurt brand, Chobani, features some naked, loved-up lesbians and, surprise, surprise, the Christian right is going mental.

In the gay food wars, the homophobic community (yes, they’re a community – they hang out in playgrounds, huffing solvents and weeping about modernity) have pelted The Gays with cake, fried chicken and pizza. Now we’re hitting back with low calorie dairy produce. I like to imagine an army of queer women on horseback charging into battle, hurling creamy white handfuls of gloop and bellowing, “EAT LESBIAN YOGHURT, BITCHES”. But I am, like the baby-eating bishop of Bath and Wells, a colossal pervert. So go figure.

But, I ask you this, why do the heteros get all the fun, fatty, sugary, carby stuff while us dykes are kitted out with milk’s sickly cousin? I get it, Chobani, lesbians are supposed to be all Whole Foods and tantric yoga. You think we’re your demographic and, to be fair, a lot of us probably are. Then again, lesbians are some of the most lactose intolerant and/or vegan people you’ll ever meet, so watch your step.

But back to the actual ad. We see an attractive, but not intimidatingly so, blonde woman in bed, earnestly enjoying a pot of Chobani. Like, why does she start eating it with her fingers? She has a spoon. She has a swanky beachfront property (the bedroom opens out onto a California-looking beach with a guitarist on it) so this woman really has a spoon. A Goop-quality spoon. It was probably hand forged by exquisite, virginal spoon artisans in the Andes. But enough about this woman and the luxury spoon that she refuses to utilise. Someone is lying next to her in bed. It has to be a man, because the only TV lesbians are ones who have tearstained shouting matches and impractical sex. We’re not allowed to be beacons of domestic bliss. Or are we? Hang on a sec, there’s a foot. Is it a lady foot? Oh my shit, it’s a lady foot. The yoghurt lady is in bed with another lady. Glory be, and alert the village elders.

Ad agencies, as we consumers are well aware, rely heavily on shock value. It’s all about, you know, showing a parakeet pecking at its dead owner’s exposed, still throbbing heart, in order to sell artisanal popcorn or something. Still beats me why I never made it in advertising. Anyway, it’s risky, it’s risqué, it’s crunchy, man. But, unless you consider middle class white women, who just so happen to be in a gay relationship, to be edgy, the Chobani ad is about as shocking as Fiona Bruce in Waitrose, buying an aubergine. It’s well and truly beige. If it weren’t for the lesbian aspect, it would be one of those ads where you can’t even remember whether it’s for heartburn tablets or a car. Which is why it continues to baffle me that the likes of One Million Moms, an anti-gay group in the US, are really and truly that bothered by it. The nudity is only mildly suggested. The bedroom floor isn’t even littered with discarded strap-ons and industrial strength vibrators. The pettiness demonstrated by those calling for the ad to be banned is really quite astonishing.

I suppose it shouldn’t be. I’m approaching this from the snug confines of my liberal London lesbian bubble. But sure, at a time in which same-sex marriage is only just being legalised in patches of the western world, the Chobani women – the world’s most wholesome fictional couple – are going to shock a lot of people.

So, in that respect, well done Chobani. From now on, you will forever be known as “that lesbian yoghurt”. So, bold, bold move.

Eleanor Margolis is a freelance journalist, whose "Lez Miserable" column appears weekly on the New Statesman website.

Photo: Getty
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The campaign to keep Britain in Europe must be based on hope, not fear

Together we can show the world a generous, outward-facing Britain we can all be proud of.

Today the Liberal Democrats launched our national campaign to keep Britain in Europe. With the polls showing the outcome of this referendum is on a knife-edge, our party is determined to play a decisive role in this once in a generation fight. This will not be an easy campaign. But it is one we will relish as the UK's most outward-looking and internationalist party. Together in Europe the UK has delivered peace, created the world’s largest free trade area and given the British people the opportunity to live, work and travel freely across the continent. Now is the time to build on these achievements, not throw them all away.

Already we are hearing fear-mongering from both sides in this heated debate. On the one hand, Ukip and the feuding Leave campaigns have shamelessly seized on the events in Cologne at New Year to claim that British women will be at risk if the UK stays in Europe. On the other, David Cameron claims that the refugees he derides as a "bunch of migrants" in Calais will all descend on the other side of the Channel the minute Britain leaves the EU. The British public deserve better than this. Rather than constant mud-slinging and politicising of the world's biggest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War, we need a frank and honest debate about what is really at stake. Most importantly this should be a positive campaign, one that is fought on hope and not on fear. As we have a seen in Scotland, a referendum won through scare tactics alone risks winning the battle but losing the war.

The voice of business and civil society, from scientists and the police to environmental charities, have a crucial role to play in explaining how being in the EU benefits the British economy and enhances people's everyday lives. All those who believe in Britain's EU membership must not be afraid to speak out and make the positive case why being in Europe makes us more prosperous, stable and secure. Because at its heart this debate is not just about facts and figures, it is about what kind of country we want to be.

The Leave campaigns cannot agree what they believe in. Some want the UK to be an offshore, deregulated tax haven, others advocate a protectionist, mean-hearted country that shuts it doors to the world. As with so many populist movements, from Putin to Trump, they are defined not by what they are for but what they are against. Their failure to come up with a credible vision for our country's future is not patriotic, it is irresponsible.

This leaves the field open to put forward a united vision of Britain's place in Europe and the world. Liberal Democrats are clear what we believe in: an open, inclusive and tolerant nation that stands tall in the world and doesn't hide from it. We are not uncritical of the EU's institutions. Indeed as Liberals, we fiercely believe that power must be devolved to the lowest possible level, empowering communities and individuals wherever possible to make decisions for themselves. But we recognise that staying in Europe is the best way to find the solutions to the problems that don't stop at borders, rather than leaving them to our children and grandchildren. We believe Britain must put itself at the heart of our continent's future and shape a more effective and more accountable Europe, focused on responding to major global challenges we face.

Together in Europe we can build a strong and prosperous future, from pioneering research into life-saving new medicines to tackling climate change and fighting international crime. Together we can provide hope for the desperate and spread the peace we now take for granted to the rest of the world. And together we can show the world a generous, outward-facing Britain we can all be proud of. So if you agree then join the Liberal Democrat campaign today, to remain in together, and to stand up for the type of Britain you think we should be.