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Google and Being LGBT

Google shapes perception.  When people search for stuff, what they see at Google influences their opinions and shapes what they expect.  Enter "beautiful woman" into a Google search, and you get several screenfuls of exactly what our culture says a beautiful woman should be: young, thin, white, with perfect features, long hair, and a sultry expression.

Here's something that bugs me.  If you type the word GAY into Google's image search function, this is what you get:

Apparently Google thinks that the overwhelming majority of gay men strip down to their underwear in public, put on weird-ass costumes, and stare at each other all day.

Let's try LESBIAN:

So lesbians are a bunch of Hollywood starlets who tongue each others mouths in their underwear for straight men to ogle. Huh.

How about STRAIGHT?

Wow.  No references to sex at all, but lots of black-and-white diagrams, and bathroom signs holding hands.

As always, we have a ways to go.


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( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 8th, 2016 01:26 pm (UTC)
Don't get me wrong, I totally agree, but here's one thing that all of us can do to try and change that. When people upload pictures of our every day life, tag that as gay too. The highest traffic pictures that are tagged (or at least have words near said picture on the page) with the word gay are inevitably "gay pride" or "gay parade" or such. One of the things that I love seeing now (especially with my newly minted librarian powers, ha ha) is how younger gays using services like Instagram tag every single picture of themselves with multiple tags referencing being gay. Eating breakfast, making coffee, sitting on the subway. Gay. Over time, we can make those the new normal. Power to them who've taken the lead, and to those like you who have noticed what needs to be done.
Jan. 8th, 2016 06:52 pm (UTC)
You're absolutely right!
Jan. 8th, 2016 03:24 pm (UTC)
No references to sex at all for straight people? But, that man symbol and woman symbol are holding hands. Clearly a picture of average hetero-foreplay. Or maybe that's the couple lying in bed during afterglow (no forget that; she's still wearing her skirt). :)

I don't use photo tags on the few photos I put online, but I think you have a good point about what shows up in these searches. gregmce has a pretty good idea. If search engines only parse the data associated with online materials, rather than assigning values and labels within the search engine algorithm itself, than any group that wants to portray a positive image could do so using tags and metadata. Although the LGBT community is well-organized, I wonder what it would take to get the word out, and get people tagging or retagging on a regular basis such that it would influence the search results.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
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