Thai cosmetics company KA recently released a daring gay lip balm commercial featuring two schoolboys — one flirtatious openly gay boy who flirts with another angry male student. The commercial is somewhat groundbreaking, and so far its viewers have been wholly supportive, even going so far as to request a dramatic series based on the commercial’s characters.
The commercial is for KA Lip Care, a fruit-flavored balm for chapped lips that contains vitamin E and sunflower oil.
In the gay lip balm commercial, there’s a run-in between two Thai students in a classroom. The first confronts the other about making his sister cry. But the tables are turned when it turns out the student who’s confronted made the sister cry when he told her he was more into her older brother.
Upon the revelation, instead of getting angry or scared, inspiring music plays and the brother looks as if he’s just come to a surprising realization, at which point the boy notices the brother’s chapped lips and lovingly asks, “Why don’t you take care of yourself?” and then begins applying KA Lip Balm onto his lips, gently holding his face and the student closes his eyes, perhaps savoring their encounter.
The student tucks the lip balm into the brother’s jacket pocket, leaving him dumbfounded. But before leaving, he turns around and says, “Don’t forget to use it regularly so you’ll know what my lips feel like.”
The commercial then pans over to a group of school girls on the other side of the room who are holding onto one another, breathlessly watching the boys’ romantic encounter.
Here is the Thai gay lip balm commercial:
While it might seem like these girls are just a voyeuristic audience — meant to turn the boys’ private moment into a public joke — it’s actually much cooler than that.
The commercial is undoubtedly inspired by yaoi, a popular subgenre of manga and anime that explores same-sex romance in way that’s almost entirely written by and for women. These romances allow women to explore romance and male affection without the same consequences of sexist social dynamics or devastating consequences of seeing themselves in the romance.
In 2016, Justin Sevakis, the founder of Anime News Network, explained that in yaoi, “The characters act largely in a way that female readers would relate to, and the entire scenario is basically intended to be a fantasy for straight women, in largely the same way that lesbian characters appear in material aimed at guys.”
What’s even more amazing is that, at the time of publication, literally all of the YouTube comments on the gay lip balm commercial are wholly positive, with viewers saying they wished the boys’ onscreen encounter could blossom into a full-fledged dramatic series or that they identify with the gawking schoolgirls at the end of the commercial.