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Gay Pride Google Rainbow Defeats the Point of Pride

Jun 24, 2011

In honor of gay pride month, Google has embedded a special rainbow-themed Google doodle. The problem? It only appears to users entering gay-related search terms.

Picture 55 Gay Pride Google Rainbow Defeats the Point of Pride

This weekend New York City celebrates gay pride month with its annual gay pride parade. If you’re looking up information about the parade online, you’ll be greeted with a friendly rainbow Google doodle that the company is using to express support for pride month.

The one problem, however, is that the pride rainbow only appears to users searching for gay-related terms. Enter a search for the word gay, gay marriage or gay pride and you’ll see the rainbow—as you will if you search lesbian or bisexual. Search for baseball, trucks or strip clubs in your zip code, on the other hand, and your Google search screen will appear plain—business as usual.

Just last week the UN passed a resolution that recognizes gay rights as human rights. New York State’s gay marriage bill on the table this week would appear a referendum on whether gay rights are civil rights, pure and simple.

With all the state-level legislative efforts around gay marriage, it seems like a particularly significant year for gay pride month—a tipping point to de-stigmatize sexual orientation and achieve equality.

Which makes Google’s gay-search-only rainbow disappointing. The company is known as being gay-friendly and spoke out against California’s Prop 8 measure. And while they likely intended the appearing rainbow to be a show of solidarity, one can’t help but feel it has the opposite effect. It’s inherently exclusionary, not inclusive. By not appearing to everyone equally, it comes across like a technological manifestation of the old “separate but equal” dictum used to justify racial segregation in the ’60s. If it was intended to celebrate pride, it comes across like a regression.

As Nicholas Jackson of The Atlantic pointed out, “there have been Doodles for Sesame Street, Veteran’s Day and Vivaldi. We’ve seen Doodles for Pi Day and Pac-Man and even the 2010 FIFA World Cup,” but never a doodle for gay pride month.

Jackson notes that as a gay man he would like “the same treatment as Vivaldi, who was properly celebrated even 269 years after his death.”

As a straight man, I would like to see gay fellow Americans win their equal civil rights just as black Americans won theirs 47 years ago. “Separate but equal” isn’t going to cut it. We need all Americans to have the same rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Google is one of the most powerful equalizing forces in the world, used equally by nearly every American above the age of four. It has the power to send a strong message at a critical time. If Google supports equal rights for all Americans, it’s time to step up to the plate with a proper doodle.

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