Google is fighting back against the perception among some advocacy groups and media that the Internet search leader doesn’t do enough to support the gay community.
The debate comes as the state of New York recently legalized gay marriage.
Google changes the layout of its search pages every year during Gay Pride month. This year, when you use Google to search for terms such as gay, lesbian or transgender, the results appear with a rainbow swooping down from and curling around the search bar.
Some people question the extent of Google’s effort.
The Los Angeles Times accused Google’s gay pride of being “in the closet.” SF Weekly said the mini-Google Doodle “isn’t gay enough.” And The Atlantic‘s Nicholas Jackson called Google’s campaign “disappointing,” questioning why the mathematics-themed Pi Day, arcade game Pac-Man and the late American children’s author and illustrator Richard Scarry all received bona fide Google Doodles, whereas Gay Pride Month only gets a small and textually conditional shout-out.
The contention is that variations of and terms related to “gay” — such as “gay rights,” “Harvey Milk” or “Pink Pistols” — do not make the pride flag appear. There could be several reasons for this. Perhaps Google wants its other work in support of the gay community to speak for itself, such as Google’s It Gets Better video; the company’s public opposition to a California ballot proposition that sought to eliminate the rights of same-sex couples to marry, which it called “chilling and discriminatory”; its frequent blog posts about subjects like gay pride and transgender remembrance; and its award-winning policies in the workplace for gay and lesbian employees.
Or perhaps Google is conscious of the fact that automatically classifying certain search terms as “gay” — signified by the appearance of the pride flag — is, in itself, discriminatory.
Not everyone is raining on the Google Gay Pride parade. Instinct Magazine said Google should be commended, adding that Google has led “the tech industry in supporting our community, and the latest addition to its arsenal of inclusion is a welcome boost in the right direction.”
Few of the dissenting voices point out the fact that other search engines, including Bing, Yahoo, AOL, and Ask.com, are not celebrating gay pride in a way that comes even remotely close to what Google is doing, and what Google has done.
A Google spokesperson told CNN that the company enjoys celebrating holidays and special events, adding that it has “a long list of those we’d like to celebrate in the future.”
Google told SF Weekly that it’s difficult to juggle various Google Doodles: “We have to balance this rotating calendar with the need to maintain the consistency of the Google homepage. Occasionally, we choose other ways to celebrate events that are important and meaningful for our users such as commemorative graphics or, in this case, a fun Easter egg in our search results.”
Gay Pride is celebrated in many different ways. Some people go to parades. Others choose to privately, yet proudly, fight for and defend equality. Google rallies behind important social issues in subtle, fun ways — but pulls out the big activism and philanthropy when and where it truly counts.