PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Instagram and Snapchat are at the center of some controversy during Gay Pride Month.
A GIF that many find offensive and inappropriate is making its way around the social media platforms.
Users are able to post a photo to their stories with a gay pride rainbow, the words “I AM A BIG GAY” and then the four letter word for homosexual.
“Yeah, I do find it offensive. The only word I can find is inappropriate for it. You just don’t say that,” says Veronica Skehan of Mt. Washington.
The offensive GIF is available for users to add to their images on both Instagram stories, and Snapchat via Giphy.
“Yeah, that’s a little offensive,” says Arthur Salvatore of West End.
Not everyone agrees that the GIF is offensive though.
“I don’t think it’s particularly bad because people can put it on theirs to express their sexuality,” notes Libby Rubenstein of Swisshelm Park.
Many said it could go either way.
“Could be bad, or people might like it. It depends. You embrace it or you don’t. So it all depends who the person is,” notes C.C. Clark of Ambridge.
“We’re in a very ultra-sensitive world right now. Words matter and words can hurt,” said Christine Bryan.
Bryan is with the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh, a gay advocacy group, and she says the four-letter h-word is not always negative.
“It’s probably what some would call a slur, but I think, again, it’s how the word is used and who is using it,” adds Bryan.
As for an LGBTQ person using this GIF on Snapchat or Instagram, Bryan sees no issue.
“I think if a person is comfortable using that word and that’s how they identify, then they should be able to use that.”
While these words may not be offensive to some, they can be really hurtful to others, especially to the young who use them against other adolescents to ridicule, to out, and to offend each other.
“Let’s talk about the younger generation,” says Bryan, “and it’s used in a hurtful way and that child might now have the wherewithal to be able to withstand that bullying.”
Bottom line for anyone using that GIF on Snapchat or Instagram, says Bryan, “Dignity and respect are two really important words, and you don’t have to agree with things, but you just need to treat people as you would like to be treated yourself.”
But social media is everywhere — and often crosses the line.
“I think it should be taken down. I do. It’s just too easy to be misunderstood, especially with social media. I think they should be taken down. I don’t think they should be used,” says Molly Rubenstein of Swisshelm Park.
“Oh, I don’t know how to feel about that,” adds Alanah Crytzer of South Side.
“I wouldn’t be happy if that was a logo on my picture. Yeah, I wouldn’t be,” notes Crytzer.
But, of course, on social media it’s easy to manipulate photos to do just that.
But suppose you used it for yourself.
“If you’re doing it for yourself, then I feel like it’s fine because it just expresses who you are,” says Sofia Sanders of Shadyside.
Some words are not equally offensive to everyone.
There are groups that want to own their own words, offensive words, and use it.
But only they can use it, and not anybody else.>>
“If it’s being used as a form of hate speech or to bully someone or to out someone who is not comfortable with doing that, then I don’t think it’s a good thing,” says Bryan of the Delta Foundation.
But Bryan says the four-letter h-word has been “reclaimed” by many in the gay community just like the word queer.
“How is it going to be used, and is it going to be used by a member of the community who identifies as being LGBT and is proud of themselves and wants to let people know that he’s proud of himself and wants to use that filter, fine.”
KDKA-TV reached out for a comment from Snapchat and Instagram and have not heard back.
This isn’t the first time that Instagram and Snapchat have been at the center of a controversy with their GIFs.
In March users found an extremely racist GIF as an option to add to their images.
That caused both Instagram and Snapchat to disable their Giphy service until they could “be sure that this won’t happen again.”