Who 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?