Google's gay pride doodle wins Sochi Olympic gold

The best thing about Google’s Olympic doodle slamming the Russian government for its anti-gay crusade (and slamming the International Olympic Committee for holding the games in a land governed by bigots) is that at first I didn’t even notice it.

(Check out this take by George Kelly of the Bay Area News Group.)

OK, I’m a little slow on the uptake. The doodle’s background was pretty clearly a representation of the rainbow flag, signifying lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pride. But what I saw was a nod to athletes — skier, skater, snowboarder, curler (or whatever you call one who curls) and hockey player.

Colorful background, sure, but I saw athletes and never gave a thought to gay, straight, black, white, Latino, Asian, Christian, Muslim, Jew and on and on.

And not to go all late-night Jimmy Roberts on you, but isn’t that what the Olympics are all about? Athletes, competition etc. etc.? Don’t get me wrong, Google an everyone else with a megaphone should be beating the holy hell out of the Russian government for its anti-gay policies.

But meantime, we should all be pleased that for many the day is here — and for others it’s coming soon — when being gay isn’t the primary way gay men and women will be identified.

So, good for Google for taking a digital stand. Yes, subtle, but pretty clear, given that the company included a snippet from the Olympic charter that says sport is a human right and that everybody gets a chance to play “without discrimination of any kind.”

“The practice of sport is a human right,” Google’s page says, quoting the charter. “Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”

Of course, this isn’t the first time Google has wandered into politics with a doodle, which typically honor really smart people that we’ve never heard of. Remember the Cesar (don’t call him Hugo) Chavez flap on Easter Sunday 2013?

That day, Google honored the late labor leader Cesar Chavez on his birthday. Fox News predictably blew a gasket. Social conservatives objected, saying Google should have honored Jesus Christ on the day that Christians celebrate his resurrection.

Fair point, but what I found odd was some of the same critics praised search engine Bing for honoring Easter by featuring an image of Easter eggs — because for Christians, Easter is all about the eggs. Am I right?

Anyway, I’ve kind of become the self-appointed protector of the Google doodle — ever since I met Dennis Hwang, one of the first doodle masters.

I even blew a gasket of my own when the doodle went all interactive, high-tech in honor of Hermann Rorschach. I still see it as blot on the proud history of the doodle.

But the truth is, if you don’t fail, you’re not trying. And Google’s poke at the Russian government is Olympic gold.



Mike Cassidy Mike Cassidy (173 Posts)

I write about the culture of Silicon Valley for the San Jose Mercury News.