In 2019, distinguishing between the companies that are truly behind LGBTQ+ causes and those that are just trying to make a buck is increasingly difficult. Many corporations now profit from outwardly waving the rainbow flag or participating in Pride, while simultaneously engaging in activities that harm LGBTQ+ people. Jezebel recently compiled a list of ten offenders, including Nike, Verizon and Anheuser-Busch (Bud Light's parent company), who publicly support or donate to gay groups, but also give significant, frequently higher amounts, to politicians who actively fight against the LGBTQ+ community.
Given the current confusing environment, the decision this week by 100 Google employees to publicly ask SF Pride to exclude their company from 2019's march is reasonably astonishing. Posted to Medium and titled "An Open Petition to the San Francisco Pride Board of Directors," the letter argues that, despite its employees actively advocating for more proactive protections for the LGBTQ+ community online, Google repeatedly fails to act on those requests and asks instead that their employees remain patient. "For those whose very right to exist is threatened," the letter states, "we say there is no time to waste, and we have waited too long, already."
The action comes less than a month after YouTube, whose parent company is Google, concluded that Steven Crowder had not violated any of its policies, despite the conservative pundit repeatedly referring to Vox writer Carlos Maza in distinctly homophobic terms. YouTube defended its decision by tweeting: "As an open platform, it’s crucial for us to allow everyone—from creators to journalists to late-night TV hosts—to express their opinions w/in the scope of our policies. Opinions can be deeply offensive, but if they don’t violate our policies, they’ll remain on our site."
The move appears to have been the breaking point for the Google employees who have formerly advocated only behind closed doors. "If another official platform, YouTube, allows abuse and hate and discrimination against LGBTQ+ persons," their letter states, "then Pride must not provide the company a platform that paints it in a rainbow veneer of support for those very persons. On the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, in a Pride celebration whose very slogan is 'Generations of Resistance', we ask you to join us in resisting LGBTQ+ oppression on the internet, and the subjugation of our right to equality in favor of calculated business concerns. The first Pride was a protest, and so now must this Pride be one."
The SF Pride Committee has since confirmed that Google will not be excluded from this weekend's celebrations, on the grounds that the company "has historically been a strong ally to LGBTQ+ communities." Future consequences for both the employees and Google, however, remain to be seen.