The Google logo is seen with the rainbow flag as a symbol of LGBTQ+ pride and social movements in New York City, on June 7, 2022.
Angela Weiss | AFP | fake images
Google is distancing itself from a drag performance it planned as the closing event for Pride month after a group of employees circulated an internal petition opposing it, alleging religious discrimination.
Each year, Google sponsors a series of Pride events in San Francisco and other locations for employees and the public. This year, the closing event was a “Pride and Drag Show” featuring popular artist “Peaches Christ,” who was scheduled to perform Tuesday at the LGBTQ+ bar Beaux in San Francisco to “end off this amazing month,” according to a now. removed. Internal description of the event seen by CNBC.
However, employees noted that the company removed the show from the company’s internal events page around the same time a petition against the event began circulating, according to internal discussions seen by CNBC.
A few hundred employees signed the petition opposing the drag performance, claiming it sexualizes and disrespects Christian co-workers, and accused Google of religious discrimination, according to the petition seen by CNBC. “His provocative and inflammatory art is considered a direct affront to Christian religious beliefs and sensibilities,” the petition read, referring to the drag performer.
Google confirmed to CNBC that it was no longer classifying the performance as a Google-recognized diversity, equity and inclusion event. The company hosted a separate social gathering at the Google offices that it now encourages employees to attend.
An internal team planned the closing drag event “without going through our standard event process,” spokesman Chris Pappas said in a statement to CNBC. “While the event organizers have moved the official team event to the site, the performance will continue at the planned location, and is open to the public, so employees can still attend.”
Pappas added: “We have long been very proud to celebrate and support the LGBTQ+ community. Our Pride celebrations have regularly featured drag performers for many years, including several this year.”
The company did not address whether the employee petition played a role in the decision to change its closing event.
The petition states that the organizers complained to People Operations, Google’s human resources department, and claimed that the venue violates one of Google’s event guidelines, which prohibits sexually explicit activity. The petition also demands an apology from the organizers and promoters of the event.
Some employees criticized the petition, saying the complaints were subjective and fueled political culture wars, according to internal discussions seen by CNBC. Drag performances have been targeted by religious and conservative organizations and politicians ahead of the 2024 presidential election. That includes a barrage of legislative proposals backed by Republican governors targeting drag events.
The employees also criticized Google leaders for what they saw as the quiet removal of the event from the internal website and a caving in to pressure from petitioners. A company spokesperson said the changes to the event were communicated to a team employee resource group last week.
San Francisco venues host Pride events each June, which is recognized as Pride month, and those events commonly include drag shows from various stage acts. Google is one of many corporate sponsors of various Pride events that also include fireside chats with influential figures and community documentary screenings for the public and employees.
The company’s Pride website features various claims supporting the LGBTQ+ community with statements like “A space to belong.” writing that “a global lockdown reaffirmed our universal need for inclusive spaces that bring us together and celebrate belonging.”