Fondation Émergence shows how homophobia is like the fear of garden gnomes

Who: Fondation Émergence, with Havas Montreal for strategy and creative; Colegram for 3D production and animation; Circonflex for music; TÖK Communications for PR.

What: “LGBTQphobias Are Irrational,” a campaign highlighting the absurdity of discrimination against sexual orientation and gender identity by likening it to other ridiculous (yet very real) phobias.

When & Where: The campaign launched on Wednesday, for International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, running across video, print, display and digital. It has been translated into 15 languages for use by organizations around the world that are dedicated to protecting LGBTQ+ rights.

Why: In short, the fight against homophobia and transphobia continues around the world. A 2020 study conducted by Stonewall’s International Work and ILGA World found that a quarter of the world’s population thinks that being LGBTQ+ ought to be a crime.

And a recent study by Léger found that 42% of Quebecers are indifferent to the cause of LGBTQ+ communities, or do not understand their importance. More than a third of the population says they are uncomfortable seeing two men kissing; and one in five people when it’s two women.

In addition, one in five respondents said that having a date with an openly trans person would make them embarrassed, while 36% of Quebecers said they are uncomfortable intervening when witnessing LGBTQphobic behaviour.

How: The campaign aims to show just how irrational LGBTQphobias are by comparing them to other similarly irrational and unfounded phobias, such as a fear of chickens or hens (alektorophobia), fear of the moon (selenophobia), and fear of lizards falling on your bed while you sleep (cubiculacetophobia).

One of the biggest challenges for the creative team was how to bring these phobias to life, said Havas art director Xavière Meheust. The campaign is led by a stylized video that uses a blend of surrealist collage, pixel art and 3D animation blended together using what Meheust describes as “a worn VHS effect”—to bring the phobias to life.

The video shows giant marauding chickens shooting lasers out of their eyes, lizards parachuting into a man’s bed, and mean-looking gnomes to illustrate nanopabulophobia (fear of a gnome with a wheelbarrow). Some of the individual phobias are also being displayed on out-of-home and social posts.

And we quote: “As a result of these phobias we erase people, we attack them and we even try to ’cure’ them. LGBTQ+ communities have always existed and they pose no danger. I repeat, being LGBTQ+ is not a disease, and sexual and gender diversity is simply part of nature.” — Patrick Desmarais, president, Fondation Émergence

Chris Powell