The Quiet Gays Club

The Quiet Gays Club is a speculative publishing and branding project that challenges the rainbow as the only marketable expression of gay identity. The project demonstrates an alternative way of designing for the community without commodifying its culture for consumer-led profit.

Written works by gay authors are repackaged in collectable forms and distributed via a donate-to-subscribe based platform — with profits going to charities that support the community. In Nanette, Hannah Gadsby asks “Where do the quiet gays go?”. The Quiet Gays Club is a direct response, providing a virtual community for individuals seeking to express their identity and pride in subtler ways.

Publishing | Branding

In her critically acclaimed comedy standup Nanette, Hannah Gadsby exclaims, "Where do the quiet gays go?” She poignantly directs the crowd to existing performative ‘party’ visions of homosexuality such as the Mardi Gras —where a marketable aspect of gay lifestyle is portrayed as the only form of gay lifestyle by mainstream news media. These visions of homosexuality can add overwhelming feelings of pressure to many members within the community, whose identities seem to fall short of the expectations of both the heteronormative majority and the vociferously vibrant minority.

From personal experience, this dichotomy often marginalises the already marginalised leaving lingering feelings of distress, confusion and hurt. Gadsby adds to the same discussion with her design critique of the rainbow flag — “Bit busy. It’s just six very shouty,  assertive colours stacked on top of each other, no rest for the eye”. She uses her personal indifference for the design of the gay community’s symbol of pride as an extended metaphor for disconnection. This notion of disconnection is resonated by many members of the gay community who don’t associate with the overly bold and bright aesthetic of existing commercial ‘gay culture’. This is especially significant in an age where social attitudes about homosexuality have liberalised and positive representations of gay people have proliferated significantly in the corporate media. This has resulted in business sectors capitalising on the perceived spending power of consumers through the commodification of queer liberation and sexuality for the sole reason of profit. 

The Quiet Gays Club was born from a desire to connect those who feel detached and disillusioned by the highly mediatised, shiny and vibrant portrayal of gay culture, yet who still yearn for a sense of belonging and connection to the community. Its aim is to provide a voice and a sense of visibility that is relevant, and is delightfully entertaining for a community of individuals seeking to express their identity and pride in subtler ways. This is the gap that the Quiet Gays Club aims to fill — for individuals who identify as being the ‘marginalised within the marginalised’ and who can’t relate to these singular ‘party’ visions of homosexuality. The project is for gay men who aren’t interested in ‘publicly presenting’ in the ways that society expects them to through their shallow tunnel visions of what ‘gay pride’ is.

The Club focuses on sharing narratives that are reflective, insightful and authentic to gay culture, opening up the conversation for more nuanced reflections of identity while delivering meaningful, thoughtful and eloquent content that is universally relevant to all within the community.

This project aims to draw attention to and inspire conversations around authentic representations of ‘gay identity’ and open spaces for conversation around who benefits from design, as well as other issues of power, class and ethnic dimensions involved. Using speculative design, it also challenges concerns about material production and consumption, demonstrating a way to design beyond corporate and commercial constraints, placing value on community as opposed to the profit-led market.