Words: Steve Brown
An advert in China has been praised for depicting a gay couple returning home for the Lunar New Year.
In the 20-second spot for e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding LTD, a young man returns home and introduces a male companion as ‘Kelvin’ to his mother.
The camera then cuts to a father figure who is staring at the couple with suspicion and then shows two girls at the table who are giggling.
Before the ad ends, Kelvin refers to his partner’s father as ‘Dad’, causing an awkward silence at the table.
Alibaba's Tmall promo subtly shows gay and lesbian couples celebrating new year with their families. The ad doesn't explicitly mention LGBTQ but it's a rare representation done by a big Chinese company. pic.twitter.com/SxBYR4ekym— Toni (but what’s your *real* name?) (@tony_zy) January 8, 2020
The advert – which began to circulate on Chinese social media on Wednesday (January 8) – has been praised by LGBTQ groups for its good-natured humour.
An Alibaba spokesperson told Reuters: “Chinese New Year is a time for family reunion and inclusion, and the ad is a creative expression to celebrate such an occasion.”
Due to China’s censorship, depictions of gay and lesbian individuals in entertainment and media are rare, despite the country having a vibrant LGBTQ scene and communities.
Lovematters, a popular gay-themed account on China's Twitter-esque Weibo, shared and thanked Alibaba's e-commerce site Tmall for supporting the gay community.
"The support of large companies for sexual minorities is one of the important factors for sexual minorities to gain visibility and be seen and recognised by the public. Thank you Tmall!" wrote Lovematters.
Alibaba – the Chinese multinational conglomerate holding company – has been a supporter of China’s gay community previously.
In 2017, they teamed up with gay dating app Blued and flew 10 couples to Los Angeles for a week-long trip, which included a group wedding ceremony.