updated 6/2/2004 2:59:12 PM ET 2004-06-02T18:59:12

A new TV ad campaign featuring a same-sex couple in colonial costume invites gay tourists to come to the City of Brotherly Love, and a gay media group said it’s the first time a television commercial for a U.S. tourist destination has targeted homosexuals.

The 30-second spot, which was scheduled to air for the first time Wednesday night in Philadelphia and will be seen around the country, ends with the tag line: “Come to Philadelphia. Get your history straight and your nightlife gay.”

The commercial will play on channels such as Bravo, MTV, VH1 and Style in Comcast Corp. cable markets nationwide. Comcast is the country’s largest cable company with 21.5 million subscribers. Bravo is a network of NBC Universal, the parent company of MSNBC.

“This is an invitation, that you (gays) are welcome here, because of what Philadelphia is and what Philadelphia has to offer, and because we have a strong gay community,” said Meryl Levitz, president and chief executive of the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp., which is sponsoring the ad campaign.

“And we’re not saying it’s a gay destination; it’s a gay-friendly destination.”

Print ads started last year
The private tourism group began its gay-theme campaign with print ads last November, and Levitz said only a few people had complained about them.

A man in the commercial is seen writing a letter by candlelight to his “dearest beloved” and asks to meet at Independence Hall. Once at the hall, he rebuffs an interested female and gives his bouquet of flowers to his male partner.

As the scene plays out, a narrator says: “Philadelphia and its countryside has a long history of making everyone feel welcome and free.” The word Philadelphia is shown in a rainbow of colors.

The commercial is the first TV ad by a destination — such as a city or resort — to target a gay audience, said Mike Wilke, executive director of the Commercial Closet Association, a nonprofit group that tracks gay representation in ads.

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