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Chinese Ad Featuring Gay Couple Challenges Country's Taboos


A commercial from an e-commerce subsidiary of Alibaba is showing a progressive vision of the Chinese New Year.

An advertisement featuring gay subtext is challenging cultural taboos in China.

Tmall, which is one of the largest e-commerce platforms in the Asian nation and is owned by Alibaba, ran a 23-second spot in which a man introduces his male partner to his family on the Chinese New Year.

"Mom, this is Kelvin," the man tells his shocked mother as she opens the door. Younger female members of the family appear amused by the reaction of their elders. "Time to eat some popcorn and watch the show," one says.

The popcorn is indeed presented when Kelvin calls the family's patriarch "Dad" to the stunned disbelief of the dinner table.

The ad went viral on Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter, where it has been viewed millions of time. In the caption, LoveMatters, an organization that promotes sex education, praised Tmall for supporting LGBTQ people and noted how it is "important for the community to be visible, to be seen by the public, and to be recognized," reports CNN.

In a statement to the news outlet, Alibaba was vague about the commercial's queer subject matter. "Chinese New Year is a time for family reunion and inclusion, and the ad is a creative expression to celebrate such an occasion," it said.

However, this is not the first time Alibaba has pushed the needle for gay equality. In 2015, Taobao, a subsidiary of the company and one of the country's largest online retailers, sponsored a contest with the gay dating app Blued in which winning same-sex couples won a trip to Los Angeles to get married.

China is infamous for censoring LGBTQ content. When Bohemian Rhapsody screened in the Asian nation, for example, six scenes of queer intimacy were sliced onto the cutting-room floor in order to screen the Freddie Mercury biopic for audiences there. Call Me by Your Name, the acclaimed 2017 gay romance, was prohibited from screening in China altogether.

Notably, though, the first gay kiss in Star Wars history, in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, slipped through the censors. This may be due to changing views -- or due to the reality that the kiss was a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment.

Watch the Tmall ad below.

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