Red equality symbol in support of gay marriage goes viral

By Efrosini Costa

Red equality symbol in support of gay marriage goes viral
Millions of social media users have been sharing a simple red logo to show their support for gay marriage this week.

Chances are, you have seen the little red square with two pink horizontal lines (scroll through pictures at right) infiltrating the social media sphere this week. 

From display pictures on Facebook, to Tweets and images on Instagram, Tumblr and Pintrest, the simple logo (a mathematical equals symbol), has been trending in a big way.

But, you’re probably wondering what it all means. 

It seems to have all begun with a human rights campaign aimed at the US supreme court, as it looks into Proposition 8, which could potentially see landmark legislation drawn up this week in regards to marriage equality.

Corporations and public figures are also weighing in on the debate, using their brands to ‘ride the equal marriage’ trend this week and paint the town red. Bud Light used its beer cans in place of the two horizontal lines in the logo, and famous US food personality Martha Stewart replicated the red and pink motif by baking a specially made red velvet cake.

Famous musicians like Beyonce Knowles and Fergie also used their social media power to share the message, in what is being described as the “defining civil-rights battle of the 21st century”, with their fans.

“It shows the enthusiasm and the passion,” said Fred Sainz, a spokesman for the Washington, DC nonprofit organisation, who is responsible for instigating the sharing of the red logo.

But some social media analysts have been left scratching their heads, wondering whether the campaign stimulates enough discussion amongst social media users and questioning how it will change the mindset of those who disagree with it.

“There’s a lot of serious conversation going on and there’s an awful lot of important concepts that the Supreme Court justices are discussing,” Sainz argued in defence of his organisation’s logo.

“This logo going viral means is individuals have reduced it to a very straightforward concept,” he added.

Mary Joyce, cofounder of the Digital Activism Research Projects, feels social campaigns like this are “a good first step”.

“They’re the difference between doing nothing and doing something, and that’s good. The question you have to ask yourself is what’s next. Will it lead to further mobilization?” Joyce told reporters.

Interestingly, the logo has also given birth to the currents that run against the gay marriage movement. A red logo with a division sign in place of the equal has also emerged as a message for those opposed to marriage equality.

This is not a new phenomenon; social media has proved to be a persuasive force over the last few years. Communications analysts have credited similar campaigns for Obama’s 2008 presidential election win, and the growth of the Araba Spring uprising last year.

Regardless of your stance on the contentious issue, one thing is for sure: the tiny symbol has us all talking, and perhaps for the campaign organisers, that’s more than enough.

What do you think? Does the sharing of such symbols equal effective activism, or is it all just a part of the feel-good digital generation? Share your thoughts in the comments section below or join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.


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