Sooooooo . . . not sure if you noticed this, but you know WorldPride? It actually started a few days ago! Yeah, those huge crowds and massive stages and the bass currently smashing against my apartment windows should have been a dead giveaway.
Anyway, one of the cool little quirks you may have noticed this year is the Pride flag flying over the Churchmouse and Firkin. It’s more than just a neat little flag: it’s actually a social media project put together by PFLAG Toronto to examine LGBT-related words on social media.
The project, called #RaiseThePride, was developed by JWT Canada and ShantyTown Inc and was created to reflect the way people use pro-gay or anti-gay language on Twitter. The basic idea is that the flag goes up when people tweet pro-gay sentiments (including the aforementioned hashtag, #RaiseThePride) and lowers when anti-gay nonsense is uttered.
In an interview with the Toronto Star, PFLAG Toronto president Anne Creighton explained the motivation behind the project: “If you want to be really mean to somebody, you use a gay word. It’s really an unfortunate part of today’s common slur . . . It used to be that if you said racist things, people accepted it. Now if you say a racist thing, people get fired. We need to get there with homophobic language. It needs to be understood that it’s simply not acceptable, because those words have power.”
Now granted, computer programming is somewhat limited when it comes to understanding human speech and expression. The context behind what we say is just as important as the words we use. Thankfully, the programmers behind #RaiseThePride took that into consideration and tried to make sure the code would recognize “groups of associated keywords” to minimize the number of false reads.
Considering how great the turnout for WorldPride has been this weekend, and how positive the reception has been, I can’t imagine that flag is going to go down anytime soon. But it is a nice visual representation that no matter how far forward we go, we can always work to improve the world, even if it’s just a few small things here and there.