Activist hopes to insert rainbow flag emoji into text lexicon with your help
In the wake of the tragic mass-shooting in Orlando, the LGBTQ and ally community has rallied together to raise the rainbow flag high. Now they’re trying to get that flag made into an emoji, a colorful symbol along side the world famous yellow faces used for texting.
Mathew Shurka, a full-time LGBTQ activist with the anti-ex-gay therapy #BornPerfect campaign, has started a petition to get the rainbow flag emoji recognized and adopted by the Unicode Consortium, the international consortium which coordinates the global standard used by the computing industry for text handling. In addition, Shurka released a YouTube video in promotion of the emoji. If adopted, the rainbow flag would appear on phones like Androids and iPhones by default.
Though Shurka had the idea for a rainbow flag emoji months before the Orlando shooting, he proclaimed in the video that “that the rainbow flag is an emoji whose time has come.”
“Let’s just do it now,” said Shurka. “The emoji is so deserved. It represents so many people. Having an emoji like this, I think it gets our leaders to take a stand. iPhones and Androids are the most used mobile devices. As silly as emojis are, they’re a big part of people’s lives, in a subtle way. It would be coming right after what happened in Orlando.”
According to the Change.org petition, each color of the rainbow flag has its own meaning that is relatable to everyone, even if they’re not LGBTQ:
Red – Life
Orange – Healing
Yellow – Sunlight
Green – Nature
Blue – Harmony
Violet – Spirit
While Shurka acknowledges the emoji can’t reverse the tragedy that happened in Orlando, he feels that it would serve as a powerful statement that the LGBTQ community remains united.
“Of course it can’t change what happened,” said Shurka. “But it’s something that’s there to show our strength and to show we’re not going anywhere.”
Shurka is also an advisory member for the #BornPerfect campaign, a movement that is designed to end conversion therapy nationwide.
Conversion therapy is a controversial “treatment” that seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation. It was a traumatic experience for Shurka who underwent conversion therapy from ages 16 to 21.
“Conversion therapy theory is on the basis, they don’t believe anyone is actually gay,” Shurka said. “They think it’s all a psychological condition and that childhood traumas cause these conditions. For me, I never had a trauma. I came from a beautiful family, a great upbringing, my parents did a fantastic job of raising me. I was almost creating blame – I had to look for the source of my homosexuality. You end up blaming your own parents for it- it sort of destroyed the family structure at home.”
Over the last few General Assembly sessions, Shurka has worked with activists here in Virginia to help stop conversion therapy on minors. He’s detailed his disturbing treatments before crowded committee meetings but consistently seen the legislation shot down by conservative lawmakers.
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