In the month of June, tech companies celebrated Pride in the best way they know how: small, quirky product updates.
With San Francisco and New York’s annual Pride event hitting this weekend, it’s a good time to reflect on just how far LGBTQ visibility in the tech community has come in a few short years. While there’s still plenty of work to be done, we’re happy to celebrate some of the fun ways that companies are showing their solidarity with the queer community while also holding them to task on the stuff that really matters.
Apple may often lead the charge in Silicon Valley’s LGBTQ advocacy efforts, but its Pride Edition Apple Watch ($49) band proves it can make superficial yet delightful shows of queer solidarity too. TechCrunch hardware editor and official pride angel Brian Heater sent me one and either my cute new haircut or the rainbow watch band has been turning heads all pride month, but i’m pretty sure it’s the band.
The best part of this particular pride indulgence is that some of the proceeds go to groups like GLSEN and the Trevor Project.
Facebook added a well-received Pride reaction this year, though reports suggest the opt-in feature isn’t available globally. In spite of ongoing tensions between the platform and the LGBTQ community, Facebook’s queer users are already pretty attached to the little rainbow reaction so hopefully it sticks around.
Instagram added a special LGBTQ sticker set for Pride 2017 and launched a global Pride-inspired photo project. The stickers are cute and include a trans flag-inspired design.
In 35 cities, Pride parade routes will show up on Google Maps for iOS and Android. According to Google, a special Pride icon will display additional events in those cities, which include Seattle, New York and San Francisco.
Uber’s local markets seem to be all kind of doing their own thing for Pride, but they apparently will deliver on-demand drag shows in Seattle for the second year running. Unfortunately, we’d expect that a delivery drag queen performance is even harder to score than a delivery kitten.
Putting its money where its cute UI features are, Lyft announced that it would donate $100,000 over the next 12 months to LGBTQ causes. It kicked that pledge off with a Human Rights Campaign partnership called “Round Up and Donate” which invites riders to opt in from the Settings menu in order to round their fares up to the nearest dollar for a good cause. Anecdotally, I can confirm that Lyft cars along Pride parade routes show up in rainbow colors which was a nice touch.
For the month of June, Twitter introduced a nice little hashtag icon that manages to combine a rainbow pride flag with the pink and blue transgender flag, which is a lot of colors in not a lot of pixels. To summon the new icon, try the hashtags #Pride2017, #PrideMonth and #LoveisLove.
Shout out to Salesforce for the gayest looking lobby we’ve ever seen.
Skype introduced some rainbowy stickers and a colorful gradient text background, for getting very gay points across.
Not settling for rainbows alone, Spotify curated a collection of music so robust that might actually last for the whole month. Or at least one really, really sleep-deprived Pride weekend.
For 2017, Snapchat launched a rainbow emoji brush, a new sticker set, Pride-themed geofilters and Pride-specific stories so users can get a glimpse of celebrations around the world, including in Paris, Toronto and Mexico City this upcoming weekend. Props to Snapchat for its inclusion of the trans flag.
While it’s nice to see these kind of fun Pride-themed product tweaks during the month of June, using its power and platform for good old-fashioned advocacy remains the best way that Silicon Valley can express its solidarity with the LGBTQ community.
That means signing onto legal briefs for queer issues that affect the tech community, contributing to organizations that have been quietly doing the hard work for years, crafting policies that include and enrich members of the queer community and making sure that LGBTQ employees are extended workplace protections and health insurance benefits that can help them not just live, but thrive.