There have been many conversations and discussions about the corporatization of Pride. Much hand wringing is done every year as massive businesses slap a rainbow on their logos, through a few queer influencers on their Instagram accounts, and then march in a parade or two. And while those conversations are no where near over, San Francisco Pride seems primed to take action.
Last year, Google employees wrote an open petition to the Board of Directors for SF Pride urging organizers to “revoke Google’s sponsorship of Pride 2019, and exclude Google from representation in the San Franciscio Pride Parade.” The reason was the contentious relationship that Google (And its subsidiaries like YouTube) have with the LGBTQ+ community.
“We have spent countless hours advocating for our company to improve policies and practices regarding the treatment of LGBTQ+ persons, the depiction of LGBTQ+ persons, and harassment and hate speech directed at LGBTQ+ persons, on YouTube and other Google products. Whenever we press for change, we are told only that the company will ‘take a hard look at these policies,’” they wrote. “But we are never given a commitment to improve, and when we ask when these improvements will be made, we are always told to be patient.” And while they were patient, they began to organize a protest staged within the Google contingent which they were told by the company was against the code of conduct. So, the 145 signees asked for Pride to revoke the partnership. And while Pride didn’t take them up on that offer for 2019, it may be in the pipeline for 2020.
According to SFGATE, SF Pride members passed an amendment to ban Google, its subsidiaries YouTube and Alphabet, as well as the Alameda County Sheriff's Office from future events. The publication reports that there is some slight confusion as to whether the members themselves can pass the amendment or whether it also needs to be voted on and approved by the board of directors.
The move comes after a landmark year for criticism of how YouTube treats not only homophobic harassment, but also how they treat content queer-themed content and its creators. After saying that blatant shows of homophobia against journalist Carlos Maza didn’t violate its terms of service, the company has rightly been taken to task. In addition, a class action suit says that the platform treas queer creators differently than it does their straight counterparts.