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Samsung pulls heartwarming advert about drag queen and his mum after homophobic backlash

SJ Zhang January 21, 2022
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Image credits: Vyla Virus/Instagram, Samsung

Samsung has pulled an advert featuring a mother expressing her unconditional love for her drag queen son amid homophobic backlash.

The advert was released in Singapore, but quickly pulled following complaints over a scene in which a Muslim mother listened to a recorded message from her son, drag queen Vyla Virus, thanking her for loving him unconditionally.

According to the BBC, Samsung was accused of attempting “to push LGBT ideology”, with one Facebook user attacking it for causing “much confusion and questions amongst the (Muslim) community”.

Samsung responded by scrubbing the video from the internet and releasing a contradictory statement.

“Samsung believes that innovation and growth are driven by diversity and inclusivity”, it said, after deleting a video that championed diversity and inclusion.

Samsung added that the video was “perceived as insensitive and offensive to some members of our local community”, and that it concluded that “we have fallen short in this instance, and have since removed the content from all public platforms”.

Many were dismayed by Samsung’s decision to give in, with one person explaining that the advert “brought [them] to tears”.

Others praised the advert for being a “truly beautiful display of unconditional love”.

Speaking to the BBC, Himli, a centre manager at a local LGBT+ organisation, expressed sadness at the video being taken down.

“It was the first of its kind video coming from a minority group on a relationship between mother and son [and] was so affirming,” Himli said.

“As a queer Malay man, I am saddened to see a video that expresses unconditional love [being] taken down abruptly due to societal pressure from a group of people with conservative values.”

Later, the drag queen who stars in the advert, Vyla Virus, took to Instagram to reassure viewers that he and his mother are doing well, and to thank supporters.

At the end of the video he concludes: “Love is love”.

The advert, which promoted Samsung’s wearable technology products, featured people listening to recorded messages from loved ones, whilst their heart rate is recorded by a smartwatch.

Vyla told his mother in the advert: “Not many will have such an understanding and open-minded mum like you, and my heart can’t thank you enough. You are just unbothered having people looking or judging you differently, having a son that does drag.”

He added that his “proudest moment” was when his mother watched him perform drag, and joined her for a hug at the end of the video in a silky wig and sparkling blue outfit.

Alongside highlighting LGBT+ acceptance, the video also tackled issues such as grief, depression and drug use in a moving series of exchanges.

Singapore is relatively conservative when it comes to LGBT+ rights. As a former colony, the island nation inherited homophobic laws from the British Empire – specifically Section 377A, which criminalises sexual activity between men.

While there have been many attempts to repeal the law in recent years, it has yet to be struck down. Additionally, there are no laws protecting LGBT+ individuals from discrimination and transgender students have faced institutional barriers to transitioning.

However, advocacy groups like Pink Dot and an increasingly accepting generation of younger Singaporeans offer hope for change.

More: Samsung

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