July 2, 2012

IconThe time I almost broke up a relationship over a silly Facebook gay marriage joke

Break open the rainbow champagne – Facebook has added mini double-brides and double-grooms to its Life Events icons!

Hmm. The more astute among you may have noticed that this is hardly gay equality history in the making; more like a gentle acknowledgment from a website used by 800 million people that some of those people are married, and gay, and don’t want that fact represented with an icon of a hetero bride and groom.

No civil partnership option?

If there’s one thing Facebook does well it’s facilitate digital stalking, and this has become much easier with the introduction of the Facebook Timeline and Life Events.

Facebook is no longer satisfied with your mundane statements about how bored you are, or what you’re planning to have for tea. It wants to know the big things: new job. New housemate. New relationship. And for each one, a jolly announcement and icon on your timeline for all to see.

Many of the Life Event options are bizarre (‘Made a Home Improvement’ ‘Started a Hobby’); others are more than a little unnecessary (‘Broke a Bone’ ‘Got a Piercing’). So does it really matter that if you pick ‘Got Married’ and choose someone of the same gender as you, Facebook knows what genders to make the little people in the icon? Well, yes it does actually.

It’s a small detail, but it’s another tiny step towards normalising gay relationships for the not insignificant proportion of those 800 million users who still think there’s something not right about gay marriage.

Facebook’s support for gay equality has been noticed by GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) and won it an award in June 2010, although the site’s insistence on making users choose ‘male’ or ‘female’ is still a little outdated.

Another strange anomoly is that, while you can choose from 10 relationship options which include ‘married’ and ‘in a civil partnership’, there is no civil partnership option within Life Events. Either this is a subtle commentary from Facebook about the inherent ephemeral nature of civil partnerships and their inevitable subsumption into marriage, or they forgot to add it.

But in all honesty, who really cares about Facebook, right? It’s just all silly fun, right? That’s what I thought, until I tried to do a little research for this article. I freaked out a friend – a platonic friend, in a committed relationship with someone else – by suggesting that she temporarily change her relationship status. Facebook: you own us all.

Facebook conversation

At time of writing the happy couple are still together, no thanks to me

Comments are closed.

Milly Shaw


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