Adam Polaski

Google's Pride Doodle Controversy

Filed By Adam Polaski | June 27, 2011 8:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Media
Tags: Google, It Gets better, marriage equality, Prop. 8, rainbow

GoogleGay.jpgWho would have thought a Google Doodle could instigate such outrage in the LGBT community? This month, in honor of LGBT Pride month, the company decided to throw in a Pride-themed treat in its search engine. When users searched "gay," "lesbian," "bisexual," "transgender," "transsexual," "LGBT," "marriage equality," or other related terms, a rainbow popped up to the right of the search bar.

Critics have spoken out in the past week about Google's attempts to stuff away its Pride proclamation in the closet. The Atlantic called it "disappointing." The Daily Mail called it a "small gesture." And many other publications have questioned the company's Doodle decision. In 2009 the company did something similar with its Pride-related searches during June.

The primary concern is valid: That Google is restricting the profession of Pride to people who would be searching for those terms and would thus be more likely to be sympathetic to the LGBT community. But that concern isn't reason enough to write off Google as anti-gay.


Google responded to the claims in a statement to The San Francisco Chronicle:

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.

It'd be cool to see what Google's designers would do with a full-blown Pride Doodle, since many of their creations - like their tributes to Charlie Chaplin or Robert Bunsen - are ingenius works of art. But is the absence of a Pride Doodle really enough to discredit all that the company has done to actually make a difference for gay rights?

The company has granted a pay raise to gay employees to make up for a tax on domestic partner health care benefits that employees in heterosexual relationships don't have to pay. It's released statements speaking out against Proposition 8 in California. And, while it caused notable controversy here on The Bilerico Project, it's supported the anti-bullying, self-esteem-boosting efforts of the It Gets Better project.

The rainbow doodle isn't perfect, as it doesn't appear when less literal LGBT search terms like "Harvey Milk" or "gay rights" are used. But it certainly doesn't mean that the company is ashamed of its gay rights advocacy, and it shouldn't be occasion to claim that Google is violating its "Don't Be Evil" policy. Can't we view the Doodle as a fun easter egg to mess around with for a few minutes and return to criticizing companies who do have damaging anti-gay policies or positions?

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Thank you. I balk when people mistake social injustice for entitlement, but this and other recent events have really been examples of a sense of entitlement and fickle political savaging from members in our movement.

Om Kalthoum | June 27, 2011 11:49 AM

I believe this should be filed under:

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Really? So, a company that goes out of it way to treat its LGB employees fairly - and by "fairly" I mean enacts company policy to even out any local/national legal disparity it can (such as the pay rate) and enforces it! A company that very specifically went out of its way to get an insurance policy to help cover employee transition for their T employees isn't doing... enough?

Heck, the doodle could even be argued that it is better for LGBT folks since it is innocuous and subtle enough not to get someone noticed at work for following the NY marriage battle while at work where they may be closeted. Google could ignore June as Pride month and they would still be setting the bar for inclusion and respect for their employees, the community in general, and all the LGBTQ folks literally searching for some sense of community across the globe.

I think some people are not happy unless they are complaining about something. This is not one of those things. Google was trying to do a nice thing for Pride month so just leave it at that.

Okay, that took me a few minutes to understand what the controversy actually was. It's not worth the drama. I get the point that you have to Google something LGBT-related to see it, and so many would miss it (I saw it after reading about it on another site), but the company's actions mean a hell of a lot more than rainbow icons.

It would be neat to have that year-round, though.

I was personally more shocked by Google's PR campaign surrounding the graphic, claiming it was to acknowledge "Gay and Lesbian Pride Month" which has been defunct since 2009 after Obama's proclamation that July be officially re-designated "LGBT Pride Month" in honour of sexual diversity.

--Randall

I thought it was a nice way to honor LGBT Pride month.

Since several people have called me "grumpy" or a "curmudgeon" lately, I'll weigh in and say that I thought it was fine too.

I had a friend from college who had the perfect term for this kind person:
Drama Lamas
(sounds funnier when one says it aloud)
-Jeremy

Google was do far more than it needed to do to honor Gay Pride month. Anyone who supports civil rights should be happy about this gesture. Incidentally, how does this compare to Google doodles for other holidays such as Christmas and the Fourth of July or other minority celebrations such as Black History month? Are we actually getting more than other minorities and still whining? If so, I have to agree with luminum above.