Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.’s Lexus luxury brand has placed its first ad in a publication targeted at gay consumers.

A Lexus spokesman tells Ward’s the ad is appearing in the magazine The Advocate.

Brian Bolain, Lexus national advertising and marketing manager, declined to be interviewed by Ward’s. However, he recently told website commercialcloset.org the proclivity toward luxury purchases by gay buyers led Lexus to place the ad, which is general in nature.

“Being gay myself, I’m aware of how critical the market and its income are,” he tells the online publication. “I've got all that hardwired into me. There’s a predisposition in our community towards luxury goods, so why shouldn’t Lexus be among them?”

Up to now, few Japanese auto makers, with the exception of Subaru and, more recently, Toyota’s youth-oriented Scion brand, have marketed themselves to the gay community, at least in the U.S.

However, Lexus’ chief competitors, including DaimlerChrysler AG’s Mercedes-Benz brand, General Motors Corp.’s Cadillac marque and several of Ford Motor Co.’s Premier Automotive Group luxury brands, have pitched their vehicles to gay buyers.

Ford came under fire last year from the Tupelo, MS-based American Family Assn. for a long-standing advertising presence in gay publications.

Last fall, Ford appeased the AFA and dodged a boycott by agreeing to avoid brand-specific ads in U.S. gay publications, as well as put an end to sponsoring gay and lesbian events, such as gay pride parades.

But the AFA reinstated its boycott this year, when the auto maker continued to place corporate ads in gay publications.

The group now is rallying conservatives to boycott Ford via a website, where it takes issue with what it says is Ford’s sponsorship of a gay marriage ceremony to take place in Ferndale, MI, in early June.

Ford reportedly says it is the charitable Ford Motor Co. Fund that is sponsoring a gay pride event that includes the marriage ceremony.

Ford dealers in rural areas of the U.S. recently told The Detroit News sales are beginning to suffer as a result of the AFA’s efforts.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com