The heartwarming video features trans activist Samson Bonkeabantu Brown
The latest Gillette ad is giving a heartwarming look at a transgender man’s first shave.
The new video features trans activist Samson Bonkeabantu Brown and his father, who walks him through the rite of passage.
“I always knew I was different. I didn’t know that there was a term for the type of person that I was,” Brown says in the advertisement. “I went into my transition just wanting to be happy. I’m glad that I am at the point where I’m able to shave.”
The video then cuts to Brown and his father in front of the bathroom mirror, getting down to business.
Brown recites the directions his father gave him: “South, South, North, North, East, West. Never in a hurry.”
His dad is encouraging, saying, “Now don’t be scared, don’t be scared. Shaving is about being confident.”
“I’m at the point in my manhood where I’m actually happy,” Brown later says. “It’s not just myself transitioning, it’s everybody around me transitioning.”
“Whenever, wherever, however, it happens, your first shave is special,” the ad concludes, with the company’s tagline, “the best a man can get.”
“Thank you so much Gillette for allowing me to share such an important moment in a man’s life with my father. I look forward to the great things you’re going to continue doing to encourage us all to be our best selves. Love y’all greatly! #MyBestSelf” Brown commented on Gillette’s video on Facebook.
In a separate post, Brown went into further detail about shooting the ad with his father.
“I shot this ad for Gillette and wanted to include my father, who has been one of my greatest supporters throughout my transition, encouraging me to be confident and live authentically as my best self. With the help of Gillette, I was able to share an important milestone in every man’s life with my father,” Brown wrote. “This moment overwhelmed me during filming and again today seeing the ad since it’s been launched. I’m keenly aware of how blessed I am to be able to exist in this world being supported by my family in ways that all too often many of my trans brothers, sisters, and siblings who exist outside the binary are not always as fortunate.”
He continued: “I am confident that this ad will encourage many of my trans siblings and fill them with the knowledge that our existence in this world can be filled with the love and support we deserve.”
“Be good to yourselves. Love yourselves. And know that when you greet the world with love, it can and will love you back, often in the places you least expect,” he concluded. “I love you greatly.”
The video has received a mixed reaction from consumers with some applauding the company’s inclusiveness while others said they would stop patronizing Gillette.
“Bye bye Gillette!” one Twitter user said in response to the video.
“I stopped Gillette products long ago ..” another said. Another added, “As I throw my Gillette razor into the trash….”
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But advocacy groups have voiced their support for the ad since its launch.
“.@Gillette leading again on healthy masculinity,” the Women’s March group said on Twitter.
“Gillette just released a groundbreaking ad of a trans man’s first shave,” LGBTQ Nation said.
“After an unsettling day, to see some of our biggest brands and companies standing beside transgender people is really empowering. @Gillette could sell razors a hundred different ways but this is moving and feels really meaningful,” added the advocacy group Mermaids.
“Oh wow, @Gillette, we are having all the feels here. As the first and largest organization for parents of #LGBTQ people we thank you for seeing our #trans kids…and for honoring their affirming #dads!” said PFLAG National.
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This isn’t the first polarizing ad from the razor company.
An ad released in the wake of the #MeToo movement calling for men to do better received backlash, with customers calling the company “anti-men” and “insulting.” Some users of the brand even called for a #BoycottGillette on Twitter at the time.
In tandem with the first ad, titled “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be,” Gillette announced that it would donate $1 million per year for the next three years to non-profit organizations that seek to better men of all ages.
“We’re inviting all men along this journey with us – to strive to be better, to make us better, and to help each other be better,” the company said in its statement.
In a statement to PEOPLE, Gillette confirmed that the video featuring Brown is their first to feature a transgender man.
“We anticipated there would be some negative response to this video, however we’re thrilled with the overwhelmingly positive responses we’ve seen, from both consumers as well as organizations,” the statement said. “As a brand committed to helping men look, feel and act their best, it’s important to us to embrace inclusivity in how we portray masculinity. This is especially true for Samson and others in the trans community, which is why we created ‘First Shave.'”