Alibaba challenges same-sex relationship taboo in China with Tmall ad

Alibaba same-sex relationship China taboo Tmall ad
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An ad by Tmall, an e-commerce platform owned by Alibaba, is trending online for subtly challenging a major taboo in China regarding same-sex relationship.

The 23-second ad from Alibaba-owned Tmall has garnered online attention for appearing to support same-sex relationship, which is a major taboo in China.

The video was uploaded this week on the Chinese social media website Weibo by LoveMatters, an organization that provides education and advice about sex and relationships.

The ad begins with a young man bringing another man home for the holidays and introducing him as “Kelvin.” The two girls at home responded by giggling and gossiping. At dinner, the father hands Kelvin a bowl of soup, and he responds by saying, “Thanks, Dad,” resulting to surprise and awkwardness.

Tmall was commended by LoveMatters for supporting the LGBTQ movement, which it said was  “important for the community to be visible, to be seen by the public, and to be recognized.”


Currently, the video has been viewed millions of times and liked on Weibo tens of thousands of times.  It has also received over 4,500 comments, many of which are positive.

One user commented: “Tmall is taking a smart stance by avoiding saying directly that it’s supportive [of gay couples] or not. But it’s already a great step forward.”

Alibaba said: “Chinese New Year is a time for family reunion and inclusion, and the ad is a creative expression to celebrate such an occasion.” It did not confirm the ad’s gay subtext, intended or otherwise.

Duncan Clark, chairman of the investment advisory firm BDA China and author of “Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built”, said the ad is not the first from Alibaba. He mentioned that in 2015, Taobao, another e-commerce subsidiary, sponsored an online contest with the gay dating app Blued to send couples from China to California to get married.