There is something about billboards featuring two men in a pair of white briefs with their arms around each other that seem to work up the homophobes. 

In 2008, Thorne Harbour Health launched its sexual health campaign for gay men ‘The Drama Downunder’. Thirteen years later, the long-running ad campaign continues to generate complaints to Australia’s Ad Standards. 

THH CEO Simon Ruth is unbothered and says that the spate of complaints that the campaign sparks every year with unfailing regularity underlines its importance. In 2019, it made it to the list of Top 10 most-complained ads in Australia. 

“Having two men in the campaign has clearly sparked some homophobic backlash,” Ruth said in a statement. 

“It’s blatant homophobia and stigmatising views like these that remind us how important it is  to have health promotion campaigns like the Drama Downunder clearly depicting gay men and  taking the shame out of having a discussion around sexual health.”

First Sexual Health Campaign For Gay Men

The Drama Down Under Ad at Victoria Park Station. Image Supplied.

Ruth said that THH was “incredibly proud” the Drama Downunder campaign.  “It was the first sexual health  campaign specifically designed for gay men to be implemented in the mainstream in this  country. For years, the award-winning campaign has been successfully reminding people to  look after their sexual health all over Australia,” said Ruth. 

The 2021 edition of the campaign features eight community models with messages about the importance of seasonal testing or testing every three months. 

Not surprisingly the street posters in Melbourne had many again claiming to be offended by the photos. 

The Drama Down Under Ad Campaign posters. Image Supplied.

“Sexually explicit images of  two men, suggestive, compromising and grotesque, 24/7 in full public view , without any  consideration of who sees these images and how they might impact children, religious persons,  conservative people, foreigners and many more,” wrote one complainant. 

“We do not openly promote prostitution, alcohol use & smoking and not  normal sexual behaviour, but gay love is displayed like a car advert? It is utterly revolting!” they concluded. 

Ad Standards advised that the campaign does not breach the Code of  advertising standards.  

In April 2021, Ad Standards had similarly dismissed complaints against a TV ad campaign from eHarmony that featured a lesbian couple. 

For more details and to check what the fuss is all about, visit The Drama Down Under website.


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