On June 9, in honor of Pride Month and not long after the death of the man who created the original LGBTQ Rainbow Flag (Gilbert Baker), Facebook introduced a rainbow flag emoji, available alongside the usual icons that appear for responses to posts and messages. I used it many times, myself.
Before the month was out, a Facebook user began a movement to add another emoji to the list: a Christian cross.
Hate Will Out
My first response was, “How silly. As if Christians need new ways to express themselves.” Then I read a Huffpost article about it and saw how much hatred was behind this request, which became more of a demand. And my second response was outrage.
To be sure, it seemed as though some people wanted the cross for well-intentioned reasons, but this small voice was completely overwhelmed by statements like this one:
“People took a symbol like the rainbow which means beauty and a non-destructive action and turned it into a destructive sinful symbol.”
And then there was this one, ranted by someone who misunderstands nature and thinks they can limit what their own god is capable of doing:
“You can’t cheat nature. God cannot create people of the same sex to ever fall in love with one another. He can’t.”
There is a term for these people: CINO. It stands for Christians In Name Only.
The New Testament (Matthew, 22:36-40) quotes Jesus as saying that the two most important commandments are “Love God with everything you are,” and “Love everyone as much as you love yourself.” He adds that all other laws—all other commandments—must bow to these.
CINOs Fail At Their Own Religion
CINOs fail the test implicit in these verses. The Christian test is to love everyone, no matter how uncomfortable someone else’s characteristics make that Christian. And the test of everyone else is to love that Christian, even when he fails his test. CINOS fail the test almost every time they speak.
The absurd demand for a cross emoji puts me in mind of a response to another effort: Black Lives Matter. Do you remember? Within weeks—maybe days—of the birth of that movement was this response: All Lives Matter. But this response was absurd, too; all you have to do is examine how black individuals have been (and are being) treated, and you can see the need to remind everyone that black people are just that: people. No reminder about “all lives” is necessary, because “all lives” have not been dismissed, discounted, denigrated, denied.
Dismissed. Discounted. Denigrated. Denied. Being treated like this applies just as well to LGBTQ individuals. They know exactly how this feels. They have been shamed for no reason other than misunderstanding for millennia. And the response to Pride is often, “Straight Lives Matter.” Well… straight people should just be glad they aren’t constantly told otherwise.
Pride Month Is Over. Pride Lives On.
Stonewall started a change, a revolt, a counter to shame. And the only way to counter shame is with pride. So June is Pride Month because it was June 28, 1969 when LGBTQ people began to fight back against the hatred. Gilbert Baker’s rainbow flag is a call to action, and it’s an expression of pride and solidarity. It’s a rallying beacon of hope for people whose lives are just as valid and matter every bit as much as the CINOs who condemn them.
The rainbow flag emoji fell off the list of Facebook icons at the end of June. I’m not aware yet of a response from Facebook to the request to restore it permanently. But given the attitudes and hatred from so many CINOs who want the cross added, I am very, very glad Facebook has not agreed to do so.