Last year, when people celebrated the SCOTUS ruling on same-sex marriage with rainbow and rainbow heart emoji, the question arose as to why there was no rainbow flag emoji. Its absence seemed conspicuous, particularly given the recent push to make the emoji set more inclusive as a whole. But now, we've got some good news: Mark Davis, the President of the Unicode Consortium, has put in a proposal to create a rainbow flag emoji, with the goal being to make it part of the standard emoji set by the end of the year. Using a technique called the Zero Width Joiner — the same method used to add emoji of diverse skin colors — the consortium should be able to make the addition well before the next emoji rollout, which isn't planned until June 2017. That's great news for anyone who wants to celebrate LGBTQ pride in their texts and social media posts.
According to the proposal, the Unicode Consortium first discussed the rainbow flag emoji in an email in June 2015. The email cited a Bustle article by Gabrielle Moss, who pointed out that people were resorting to creative alternatives, like pictures of rainbows and same-sex couples, to celebrate the SCOTUS decision. "While it can be argued that the RAINBOW emoji itself is usable as a stand-in," wrote Noah Slater, "it usually requires some sort of additional context to work. There is a clear need for a rainbow flag that unambiguously symbolizes queer pride."
The group spent some time discussing the technicalities before coming up with the idea of using the Zero Width Joiner, which allows you to combine different emoji — a blank flag and a rainbow, in this case — in order to create one new image. Davis wrote that the idea earned "strong vendor support," which makes the possibility that it's coming to our phones and computers sound pretty promising.
From the gender-diverse professional emoji that were approved last week to the addition of selfie and bacon emoji in the latest rollout — and of course the racially diverse emoji that debuted in 2015 — it seems like our emoji are finally becoming a reflection of our changing cultural attitudes and values. In the case of the rainbow flag, our keyboards have lagged a bit behind the times, but it looks like they may soon catch up.