I was out to dinner last night with a group of friends, with a large spectrum of sexual orientations: straight, gay, lesbian, and flexible. We got to talking about how it was often hard for women, trans people, or bisexuals in a relationship to be taken seriously, or to even be seen as “gay” by others. More often than not, most bars and clubs for the queer community cater to gay men with the off ladies night. Moreover, unless women look and or dress a certain way (like Ellen) they are often not considered “Gay Enough.” They become invisible and overlooked and even denied their relationship status by many people. How does this relate to Emoji?
Recently I decided it was time to make the Emoji Dictionary a fully fledged resource. I went the same route as Fred Benenson did with Emoji Dick and used Amazon’s Mechanical Turk tool for micro jobs. Basically hundreds of anonymous people spent a few days defining all the 846 Emoji featured on the Emoji Dictionary.
When I started poking around the site and the over 4000 definitions I had commissioned by an international workforce, something caught my eye. I looked at the definition for the two girls holding hands Emoji, there was no mention of them being gay or lesbian. Words like, “creepy girls, Girl Friends, two girls, women, and sisters” were used. The example sentences followed a similar tone: “Friendly girls hold hands to show affection.” and “Those girls holding hands are creeping me out.” So people were either seeing the Emoji as a symbol of sisterly love or it made them uncomfortable.