I have become pretty familiar with the internet and have reviewed thousands of websites in that time. Ever since I came out as a lesbian I noticed that I am now being filtered and censored when I am surfing around online. Every time I look for something gay or lesbian related on a mainstream website I find that I am being filtered, and sometimes what I am searching for has been censored. This is pretty frustrating for me, especially when I have a deadline on a particular project I am working on.
The problem for me is in the word 'lesbian' because it's considered adult content.
But is it really adult content? The internet is famous for giving the world access to all things adult, and lesbian adult content is no different. But are all things lesbian considered adult content? Right now the answer to that is yes, but it shouldn't be that way. An entire community is being segregated from the mainstream community by these filters which seem to be based on misconceptions about our lifestyle. Many of us in the LGBT community are focused on providing internet content LGBTs can appreciate, and I myself try to steer clear of using material or words that are sexual in nature simply to avoid being filtered out online. This makes me feel like I am being censored, and even though I am not being told by anyone specifically to omit certain ideas, the need to do so is obvious to anyone in the LGBT community.
We are frequently warned, and questioned like this warning I get whenever I search for photos on PhotoBucket...
Your search term probably relates to adult content. Photobucket "DOES NOT" host sexually explicit content.This warning will come up if I am searching key phrases such as 'lesbian health insurance' or 'lesbian child care'; any search term with the word 'lesbian' in it will bring this warning.
Warning: If you are under 18 or live in an area where it is illegal for you to view explicit content try another search.
Continue your Photobucket search here
Self-censoring keywords has become a way of life for this lesbian blogger, and now I find myself using 'safe' search terms like 'LGBT' rather than the word 'lesbian'.
Typing in LGBT will usually pass the filters, and so this type of self-censorship, though frustrating, will bear the best results for me. I imagine that this is the same experience for many others in the LGBT community, since words like 'gay', 'homosexual', or 'same-sex' are usually filtered as well. What is interesting however, is that this is not something that only affects our community. Other communities interested in learning about or helping LGBTs are finding themselves engaging in self-censoring to avoid being filtered out as well. Most recently in the science community, it was noted that when 82 scientists were surveyed in 2005/2006, more than half of them said they leave out certain words in funding requests related to the LGBT community because they "raise red flags" which would eliminate their chances for funding.
What is so frustrating to me is the apparent discrimination between heterosexual and homosexual lifestyles.
I wasn't considered adult content when I was married to a man, but now that I am married to a woman I am being filtered and censored even though I am still the same person. I sincerely hope that in the future - the near future - this practice will become a thing of the past.
What are your thoughts on the subject??
About the Author: Julie Phineas is a work at home mom of 2 who lives in Southern California. You can find out more about her by visiting her website at www.juliephineas.com.