It’s easy to cast a cynical eye at corporate attempts to court the favor of the LGBTQ community, especially when they come off as tokenistic in their approach. But in recent months we’ve seen a surge of commercials and ad campaigns that feel, even to my cold, jaded heart, like they’re coming from a pretty genuine place. The difference between the old, slip-a-gay-couple-in-with-the-normal-people paradigm and this new mood is, I think, one of unapologetic boldness—as in the recent Honey Maid triumph—and, perhaps, the involvement of actual queer people in the campaign creation.
That kind of true gay experience is palpable in Allstate’s deeply poignant new ad, released as part of their 2014 #OutHoldingHands Pride effort, called “Safe in My Hands,” a play on the insurance company’s “You’re in Good Hands” slogan. The spot—almost a short film—features the beautifully animated story of a man who struggles growing up with an oversized hand, set to a moving score by Eli Loeb. If that metaphor for gayness sounds contrived (it struck me that way at first), give the video a moment or two longer. As our protagonist goes from dealing with poor athletic skills to sustaining disdainful looks from strangers on the subway platform, those who have felt and still feel marked, surveilled, and summarily despised in public because of their sexual orientations and gender identities are likely to find the giant hand image rather apt. Lucky for us, though, there are many other open big-handers and big-hand allies out there these days, as our hero ultimately discovers.
Obviously, Allstate intends this ad to be a business draw—the campaign site is very happy to help you find an agent—but such a lovely object could not have come from a place of total calculation. When Allstate says, “We believe everyone should be treated with respect and without judgment no matter who they love,” I’m inclined to believe them.