16 Vintage “Gay” Advertisements That Are Funny Now That “Gay” Means “GAY”

“Gay” is a great word. Here’s why: it rhymes with everything. Also, it’s brief. Therefore it should be no surprise that even before it meant “inverted sinner pervert homosexual” and still meant “happy.” What happened next was that gayness and happiness split up, but they’ve been getting back together ever since and are going strong. Look at our ancestors in gayness!

16 Vintage “Gay” Ads That Weren’t Actually About Gay People But Should Be Now



which makes 4th of july a gay holiday



the captain is actually waving goodbye to these girls who he hasn’t got a chance with anymore



before R Family, there were these guys



as we know it from watching ‘the real l word’!



we go way back with beer



if you know what haviland & riese vlog this line is from, you win a pony



this teapot inspired the romi klinger hit track, “gay in LA”



it’s a white tank top



there are a lot of ways to look at this situation, i haven’t picked just one yet



not as sweet as lesbian sex, but sweet



but lately we’ve been really into these color-coded bandana things?



it’s every straight girl’s favorite fantasy





this paint roller is detachable, p.s.



every little girl’s dream, every parent’s nightmare



but what does it mean?

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3211 articles for us.


  1. This is one of the best things in all of human history. #8 is definitely my favorite.

    I also read #3 as “Clitone”.

  2. pretty fabulous list of gaiety!
    if only all I needed was gay ribbon to keep me brave in a war troubled world.

  3. Oddly enough both 12 and 13 had a contributing factor in my adolescent gay experiences.

  4. “Menstrual distress” is now my new favorite phrase instead of “FUCK I’m cramping, I want to go back to bed”

    • I just like telling people that it feels like my uterine lining is being forcibly removed from my body. They get the picture.

      • mostly I just flail around screaming BLOOD BLOOD EVERYWHERE

        (but really I have endometriosis and puddles happen)

    • Go to allposters.com, search for advertisements and what they are advertising, I know they have the Go Gay hairspray ones.

  5. As someone who collapsed in a laughing fit in front of over a hundred people while singing the ‘Don we now our gay apparel’ line in Deck the Halls just this Christmas, this appeals to my sensibilities.

  6. Love it! Have you got any links to bigger versions? I want the Ovaltine one as a poster by my bed.

  7. Jell-o totally IS the gay dessert. Have you ladies seen how many rainbow jello shot recipes are out there? At least 37 bajillion. I want to eat ALL THE RAINBOW JELLO.

  8. At first, I didn’t know what Jester was selling, but I do indeed feel a bit gayer after seeing it…so mission accomplished!

  9. Now I know why Salt Lake City was voted gayest city…Jello! We love our Jello! If only all those Mormons knew that Jello salads at church events makes you gay, going to church would be A LOT more fun!

    • With their Jello at every event and their intense love of musical theater, Mormons really are the gayest of the homophobic religions.

  10. I am going to put on my Kotex and Modess pads, take some Midol, make sure I have on my Gaytees footwear and gay Jester Wools, put some GoGay hairspray on my hair and Gay Diversion perfume on myself while my Gay-LA singing kettle heats up water for my Ovaltine. Then I will go on an American Export Lines gay cruise and drink lots of Cook’s Imperial Champagne and Pabst Blue Ribbon while eating Jello, and Murray Regent and Spangles candies. When I get home I will repaint with all 168 stylist colors of “Clitone” paint!

  11. “Go, gay girls!” or “Go gay, girls!”? Either way, we are discovered first. I love this, so hilarious! “Wake up gay in the morning.” Pretty accurate.

  12. Did anyone else look at number one and think it was a new/old pickup line for “missionary work”?

  13. This explains so much about my childhood. If ma hadn’t been so stingy with the Ovaltine, I’d have ended up lesbian instead of bisexual.

    • I drank (or ate spoonfuls of) Ovaltine like it was going out of style and still ended up bisexual…

  14. on the kotex one.. “most trying hygenic handicap” …. wtf is that referring to a period?

  15. I dunno if it’s ovaltine before bed that folks need to wake up gay in the morning… I think it’s me. A little me before bed will definitely wake you up gay in the morning.

  16. My favorite is when they called the 1890s the “Gay Nineties.” Considering this is the era when Oscar Wilde was making London ten times more fabulous, I highly approve.

    • There’s a giant gay club in Minneapolis called the Gay 90s. It took me a couple years of college between by first and later visits to get the reference.

      • …I was in the TC for five years (school + shitty employment) and I did not make that connection, ever.

        Damn science majors, we don’t know shit.

  17. I dunno about anyone else here, but the idea of ensconcing animal crackers in Jello is really freaking me out. Like just…no, that is not okay.
    That will just ruin your animal crackers AND your Jello, and then where will you be?

  18. Can we start the hair ribbon movement as a super cute method of signaling?
    Ribbons > Bandanas

  19. Oh my Gay. My last name is Murray. And I love chocolate. And I am very fucking gay. Yess.

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  21. This is the best thing ever! I also read it as Clitone… was thinking that was perfect until I reread it… Gutted it doesn’t say that!

  22. I have a calendar from 195something that says “If it’s Gay, it’s okay!” From a company called Gay Products. I love it.

  23. I need to have these adverts in frames on my wall in my house. Now.

    Someone needs to start making reproductions to sell to me on etsy. Or tell me where i can get them please.

    Oh, the gay cruise! And the very gay assortment! Those will never stop being amusing.

  24. Haha, this article is awesome and the captions to go along with the advertisements are classic!!

  25. “Go Gay” and “Gay Diversion” SO need to be things again.  I would buy up that shit just for the name, unless it like smelled terrible or sumn.

  26. It’s not vintage, but I lost my mind when I discovered “Golden Gaytime” ice cream novelties in Australia.

  27. I don’t need Ovaltine to wake up gay in the morning, but it does help, I’m not going to lie.

  28. It IS chuckleworthy, just like a certain vintage Batman comic when “boner” stopped meaning “accident” & took on a whole new meaning.

  29. Gay means happy. These commercials show disgusting people in acts against mankind. They are perverts, degenerates and until a few years ago psychiatry labeled them as mentally ill. They still are. If you can’t say I’m happy my son is marrying another man or your daughter marrying another woman, then have the balls to say that it’s wrong.

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