Porn?

No I was looking for gifs of women with cats…

As many of you have probably guessed I am a lesbian. A very small (5″1) lesbian. I grew up in a very small ‘city’ (15,000 people and as far as I knew 14,999 heterosexuals). When you grow up feeling like the only gay in the village, the Internet is your LGBT community. It’s a place to find and talk to other people just like you with considerably less social awkwardness and no embarrassing open mouthed gaping at quite how many queers there are out there.

Tumblr didn’t exist when I was 15/16 and lacking in lesbian pals, because I’m older than I’d like to admit. But if it had, and if I were cooler, I would have been searching for all the #lesbian posts. Using Tumblr, After Ellen, WordPress and a host of other sites. These sites are a great way to find other queer women and feel part of a wider community when you may not know any other lesbians. It’s a way to feel less alone and ask all those awkward ‘Am I a lesbian? What is a lesbian? Do I need to move to a Greek island?’ type questions. Up until last week all the cool queers were using Tumblr to create this sense of community, post about politics, read about activism and appreciate pictures of women with cats. Today this isn’t so easy.

Tumblr have banned using ‘gay’, ‘lesbian’ and ‘bisexual’ as search terms on its app but bizarrely not currently on its main website. Tumblr defended this on their own blog by stating that

‘[t]he reason you see innocent tags like #gay being blocked on certain platforms is that they are still frequently returning adult content which our entire app was close to being banned for’.

Searching for ‘gay’, ‘lesbian’ and ‘bisexual’ is not the same as searching for ‘porn’ or ‘sex’. I imagine if you want porn or sex you’d search for those words or more graphic descriptions. If you want pictures of rainbow cakes, videos of equal marriage demos and blogs on lesbophobia you search for and use hashtags like ‘lesbian’. To equate gay only with sex suggests our entire community is nothing more than a dating pool – a slur LGBT groups often have to fight against. For a popular blogging site to do this affirms the suggestion that if you’re looking for lesbian posts you must be wanting porn.

Tumblr hasn’t just equated every gay, lesbian and bisexual post on its website with porn regardless of content, it has also made some strange decisions about which tags to ban. The banned list includes ‘gay’, ‘lesbian’, ‘bisexual’ and ‘straight’. However, you can still search for ‘lesbo’, ‘dyke’, ‘bi’, ‘lez’, ‘LGBT’ ‘LGBTQ’, ‘queer’, ‘trans’, ‘homo’, ‘faggot’ and ‘homophobia’ – which many of those terms encourage. There aren’t many situations in which ‘queer’, ‘trans’ and ‘lesbo’ are more socially acceptable than ‘straight’. There is a more worrying problem here that it may now be easier to find homophobic posts than those promote and support the LGBT and queer communities.

Even this cat is shocked!

Even this cat is shocked!

Oi Tumblr, give us the gay back.

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