We might have found one of the oldest American tv commercials with a gay couple in it.
If you were asked to guess which company released the first gay commercial, which one would you guess? If you guessed IKEA, you might be correct.
News and media zine/blog Boing Boing insists that IKEA created the first mainstream tv commercial with gay people.
The below video from 1994 sees a gay couple talking about getting a table from IKEA. Steve and his unidentified partner joke about their three year relationship and how the table reflects that.
As short and sweet as the ad appears, it shook American viewers in the ‘90s. According to a 1994 article by the Los Angeles Times, East Coast IKEA stores were rocked with anti-gay pushback.
“A few East Coast Ikea stores have been targeted by angry protesters who have jammed phone lines since last week. One store in Hicksville, N.Y., was briefly evacuated last week after a bomb scare. No bomb was found.”
But it wasn’t all bad news. Many LGBTQ people were excited when they saw the commercial. Before then, gay people had only been acknowledged in minor print advertisements or specifically in gay and lesbian publications.
To gay people, the ad showed "an aspect of gay life that people never see: our daily lives," according Ellen Carton, executive director of the New York chapter of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (which later changed its name to GLAAD).
As for IKEA, the company says it was only trying to properly represent all types of customers.
"We're not trying to promote a certain lifestyle or make a statement," said East Coast marketing chief Peter Connolly said. "This is just part of our overall strategy to try to speak directly to all kinds of customers."