Chinese gay communities applauded tech giant Alibaba after it released an advertisement with, what seems to be, a same-sex couple.
The 23-second advertisement is for Tmall, an e-commerce platform owned by the company. It starts with a young man bringing another man home for Lunar New Year. He then introduces him to his family as “Kelvin.”
The father looks at the men with suspicion while two girls giggle at them. During dinner, the father hands Kelvin soup and Kelvin responds with, “Thanks, Dad,” creating an awkward silence. The ad then ends, promoting a discount for dried seeds and nuts.
LoveMatters, an organization providing education and advice about sex and relationships, shared the advertisement on Chinese social media site Weibo. It has since received over 25,000 shares and 4,500 comments.
They wrote, “The support of large companies for sexual minorities is one of the important factors for sexual minorities to gain visibility and be seen and recognized by the public. Thank you Tmall!”
In a statement made to CNN Business, Alibaba neither confirmed nor denied the ad’s gay subtext but rather said:
“Chinese New Year is a time for family reunion and inclusion, and the ad is a creative expression to celebrate such an occasion.”
Homosexuality is not illegal in China, but LGBTQ people still face discrimination from the public and the government. Last month, supporters urged Chinese lawmakers to legalize same-sex marriage in an updated civil code.
This is also not the first time that Alibaba has supported China’s gay community. In 2015, Taobao—another e-commerce platform—teamed up with the gay dating app Blued to send 10 couples out to Los Angeles to participate in a wedding ceremony.
That same year, Tmall posted a rainbow version of its black cat mascot on Weibo, along with the caption, “Love will be enough.”