Nokyoung Xayasane
March 27, 2013

What’s With the Red Equal Sign?


Facebook and Twitter became a sea of red yesterday when profile pictures and Twitpics were changed to a red square containing a pink equal sign.

This caused many people to ask, What’s with the red equal sign?

The symbol is actually a sign of solidarity among supporters of marriage equality. The Human Rights Campaign encouraged supporters of gay marriage to “paint the town red” and change their profile pics and avatars to the symbol.

The wave of red across the Internet coincided with the first day of Supreme Court hearings on gay marriage.

Yesterday, the court began deliberating on California’s Proposition 8, which bans same-sex couples from marrying. Today, arguments will be heard for the Defense of Marriage Act, which legally defines marriage as a union between a man and woman.

Many celebrities have shown their support for marriage equality by posting the red equal sign on their social networking sites. Star Trek actor and gay rights activist George Takei received nearly four million likes and over 40,000 shares for his profile change.


Although the red equal sign trend is inspiring, many people question its efficacy and its ability to bring about real change. Is this a just a show of solidarity among people who feel helpless?

I don’t think it’s helpful to rain on this movement with cynicism and negativity or to negate people’s opinions with snide remarks (plenty of which I’ve seen while browsing the Internet today). Will changing your profile picture to a red equal sign bring about change? Probably not. But it’s still a powerful symbol of people’s collective frustration with a law that clearly violates the human rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

If wearing red or toting the red equal sign makes citizens feel more connected through their beliefs, what’s the harm in that?