• Bonds have released their new Christmas ad. (Bonds)
"Please let the right person know that I’ll be buying bonds underwear for everybody on my list this Christmas."
By
Samuel Leighton-Dore

20 Nov 2019 - 2:06 PM  UPDATED 20 Nov 2019 - 3:26 PM

When Bonds revealed a new campaign image on social media recently, the Australian company was quick to face some predictable backlash. But once the dust settled, messages of thanks began to emerge.

"Please let the right person know that I’ll be buying bonds underwear for everybody on my list this Christmas and restocking my own supply because of it!" one social media user wrote.

"Really good to see a relatable post on my social media feeds."

Another reflected on his journey to self-acceptance as a gay man in the 1990s, stating that greater LGBTIQ+ visibility might've helped him feel a greater sense of place.

"In 1997, I realised I’m gay. My world collapsed," he wrote.

"One night, I drank too much, emboldening me to try to end my life (my big brother saved me). Eventually, I accepted ‘gay is ok’. The loving bonds I’ve formed since give my life meaning."

He added: "The @BondsAus ad helps save lives."

The fact is, visibility through advertising is incredibly powerful - more powerful, perhaps, than it should be.

Growing up, the first time I saw two men kiss passionately was when my dad took me to see Brokeback Mountain. I was fifteen. Before then, I'd felt increasingly isolated by my growing sense of sexuality - an isolation that only intensified over the Christmas period, as shopping centres erected billboards of happy straight couples in various poses of bliss (and various stages of undress).

To have had my sexuality validated back then would have done wonders for my sense of belonging. Who knows, it might've even helped stifle the growing sense insecurity and depression I still live with today.

Advertising is inherently aspirational - that's the point of it. It's meant to lay a blueprint for what life can be like. And when young people aren't exposed to variations of these aspirations they're going to feel fundamentally different - even though, in actuality, they're perfectly beautiful and doing just great.

Samuel Leighton-Dore is a writer and visual artist, and winner of the 2019 ACON Honours award for visual art. He is the author of  graphic novel 'How to be a big strong man' exploring the impact of rigid masculine stereotypes on young boys and men. You can find more of his #Howtobeabigstrongman series here. 

If you or anyone you know needs help, contact Lifeline 13 11 14. 

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