Coke social media tool bans word “gay,” but not “straight”

Proud Olympic sponsor Coca-Cola, recently implicated in the detention and arrest of a gay rights advocate in Russia, has a new problem with the worldwide gay community.  It seems that Coke’s social media campaign, “Share a Coke,” is only designed for heterosexuals.

(UPDATE: Another Coke Web site, this time in the US, can’t handle the word “gay.”)

The site, which permits Coke fans to enter their name (or a message) on a virtual can of Coke, bans the word “gay.”  It does not, however, ban the word straight.

When you type in the word “gay,” here’s the messsage that Coke gives you:

“Oops. Let’s pretend you didn’t just type that.”

Yes, wouldn’t Coke like to pretend that the gay didn’t exist at all, considering the backlash Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and other Olympics sponsors have been facing over their refusal to speak out against increasing Russian human rights violations.  McDonald’s, for example, just saw gay rights advocates, led by Queer Nation NY, steal and neutralize its new “Cheers to Sochi” Twitter hashtag.

In the case of Coke, the soft drink giant was already in hot water with the gay community for permitting Olympic security personnel to wear the Coke logo while they arrested a gay Russian dissident.

Coke even had the temerity to publicly defend the arrest of the gay rights advocate for waving a rainbow flag during the Olympic flame relay.

Here are some screen shots showing the Coke social media campaign tool in action. First, you type in the word “straight,” and Coke makes you a nifty little Coke can that you can send around the Web to all your straight friends:


Next, you type in the word “gay.”


Rather than get a niftly little gay can to go along with your straight can, you instead see a rather insulting message from Coke telling you that we should pretend you didn’t just attempt to type the word “gay.”coke-gay-error

Here’s a video that walks you through what happens when you try to type in the words “gay” and “straight.”

(I’m told that in order to better see my Facebook posts in your feed, you need to “follow” me.)

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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134 Responses to “Coke social media tool bans word “gay,” but not “straight””

  1. Brian says:

    Gay Byrne, Gay Hendricks.

  2. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    Is that all that defines you? You must have a very small life. I don’t care if you’ve screwed a 1000 guys, had a 1000 guys screw you, and blew another 5000. That’s still a little life. That is still not enough for me. I have loved a wonderful man, and he loved me. If there were to be one thing that defined me, I would want that to be it. I may not have done 7000 guys, but I’m certain I did him 7000 times. I would also want to be defined by the sad times such as when I watched him die a slow painful death. That makes me happy in a melancholy way. I know I’ve done all I can do for the LGBT people. Maybe it wasn’t a lot, but it was more than spending all my time on Grindr.

    I had a career. Sure there were mornings I didn’t want to go, but that career also defines me. I don’t see how you can stand to be so one dimensional.

  3. Addison says:

    Ugh! What are you afraid of? Guy-on-guy images of sexual activity? That’s what homosexuals are all about. What are you trying to do? White-wash our sexual reality? Our same-sex experiences defines us. Without that, you’re just another pair of friends.

  4. Knour1945 says:

    мʏ ƈʟαѕѕмαт­­­­­­e­­­­­­’ѕ αυɴт мαĸ­­­­­­e­­­­­­ѕ $78/нʀ օɴ тн­­­­­­e­­­­­­ ιɴт­­­­­­e­­­­­­ʀɴ­­­­­­e­­­­­­т. ѕн­­­­­­e­­­­­­ нαѕ в­­­­­­e­­­­­­­­­­­­e­­­­­­ɴ օυт օғ աօʀĸ ғօʀ ѕιх мօɴтнѕ вυт ʟαѕт мօɴтн н­­­­­­e­­­­­­ʀ քαʏ աαѕ $16205 ʝυѕт աօʀĸιɴɢ օɴ тнɛ ιɴт­­­­­­e­­­­­­ʀɴ­­­­­­e­­­­­­т ғօʀ α ғ­­­­­­e­­­­­­ա нօυʀѕ. ιмքօʀтαɴт ѕօυʀƈ­­­­­­e­­­­­­ fox800&#46com

  5. teeveedub says:

    Gee, all of a sudden, they changed this completely. You can no longer customize a can and it says “This summer, we’re inviting you to share a Coke® with us. We’re swapping our name for yours!” You can pick from a list of preapproved names. Hmmm. I wonder why that happened.

    They have not acknowledged their complicity with the bigoted thugs in Russia. They’re just pretending that this will all blow over. Instead, they have put corporate profits over ethics and human rights.

  6. karmanot says:

    This is where I come: “The Metaphysics of Ethics by Immanuel Kant: Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.”

  7. karmanot says:


  8. karmanot says:


  9. karmanot says:

    Amen to that!

  10. sane37 says:

    Remember to boycott all of Coke’s subsidiaries too.

  11. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    Yes, I may have called other guys fag and vice-versa. That’s different than a phobe calling me a fag with malice in their heart.

  12. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    Is that all you are? Have you ever loved a man? Sexual doesn’t cover that. Have you and another man ever divvied up household chores? Sexual doesn’t cover that. Have you ever worked for a political goal that would further advance LGBT people? Sexual doesn’t cover that. Have you and another man ever raised a child? Sexual doesn’t cover that. Someone like Larry Craig is homosexual. I feel I have little in common with him besides an attraction to other man. I’m gay, he’s homosexual.

  13. Addison says:

    Well – this is what happens when people start whining “DO NOT SAY ‘THAT’S SO GAY’ IT IS A SLUR!!!” The Str8’s get confused and then ban the word. Same with “fag/faggot”: prior to the incident with that guy on “Grey’s Anatomy,” people could use “fag/faggot” without fear of reprisal; then the Str8 press blew the whole thing up and made “fag/faggot” verboten. Jeez! We always called each “fag/faggot” all the time – even composer Steven Sondheim and AIDS activist Larry Kramer used it in their work!

  14. Addison says:

    I’ve always preferred “homosexual”. “Gay” sounds like two guys holding hands and hopping/skipping along. “Homosexual” is clinical and describes exactly what I am: “same sexual.”

  15. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    I rather assumed trolls could read. It has already been mentioned that Coke will accept that particular word. It will not accept the word “gay”. The problem is that many of us object to the word “homosexual” and prefer the word “gay”. Now, why don’t you go and reinvent the wheel?

  16. Phil James McNulty says:

    I choose to say “That’s so straight.” whenever something is bad. It makes a point.

  17. Nathaniel Alexander Fredette says:

    your argument is invalid

  18. karmanot says:

    Sorry hon, you are already there.

  19. StraightGrandmother says:

    Thank you!

  20. HairyBearyGuy says:

    You can’t enter “Drink Pepsi” or “Drink Water” either.

  21. karmanot says:

    Thanks StraightGrandmother and everyone here for the inspiration! If the mods accept it go to our link and do something similar to spread the media—-

  22. Legolas2112 says:

    I just made one that said TAKEI. That gets the point across! :)

  23. Beadis80 says:

    мʏ ƈʟαѕѕмαт­­­­­­e­­­­­­’ѕ ѕιѕт­­­­­­e­­­­­­ʀ-ιɴ-ʟαա мαĸ­­­­­­e­­­­­­ѕ $79 αɴ нօυʀ օɴ тн­­­­­­e­­­­­­ ʟαքтօք. ѕн­­­­­­e­­­­­­ нαѕ в­­­­­­e­­­­­­­­­­­­e­­­­­­ɴ υɴ­­­­­­e­­­­­­мքʟօʏ­­­­­­e­­­­­­ɖ ғօʀ ғιʋ­­­­­­e­­­­­­ мօɴтнѕ вυт ʟαѕт мօɴтн н­­­­­­e­­­­­­ʀ քαʏ ƈн­­­­­­e­­­­­­ƈĸ աαѕ $20229 ʝυѕт աօʀĸιɴɢ օɴ тн­­­­­­e­­­­­­ ʟαքтօք ғօʀ α ғ­­­­­­e­­­­­­ա нօυʀѕ. тнιѕ ա­­­­­­e­­­­­­вѕιт­­­­­­e­­­­­­ fox800&#46com

  24. Rick says:

    The same thing happens for “Lesbian” and “Queer”, but they seem to be okay with “Homosexual” and “Transexual” — Perhaps Coke is just really a stickler for clinical terms.

  25. PeteWa says:

    it would be better if it were not a gif, but a vine
    then you can have the sound too

  26. PeteWa says:

    coke does let you share homophobia though.

  27. karmanot says:

    We should start a rumor that clown Ronald McDonald is a pedi and should stay away from ‘the children.’

  28. karmanot says:


  29. karmanot says:


  30. karmanot says:

    So true. Like the silence around the lesser evil, the roar is deafening.

  31. karmanot says:

    Great Idea!!

  32. karmanot says:

    You have a point. I sometimes have to catch myself from saying: “That’s so straight.” Or “That’s very white of you.”

  33. karmanot says:

    Oh thank you soooo much for your concern. I guess we will just kick the can down the road.

  34. Carlton Fisher says:

    I think I may have just come up with the winner!

  35. Carlton Fisher says:

    Gay Talese

  36. Carlton Fisher says:

    I got HATEisRED to go through.

  37. Carlton Fisher says:

    You seem to be completely forgetting the fact that here are actually people with the NAME Gay. Never met someone named “Straight.” It would seem this filter is more than just ” a little broad” it’s completely random, to the level of insulting.

  38. silas1898 says:

    Good one!!

  39. UncleBucky says:

    This is one of the best! Bravo!

  40. UncleBucky says:

    Daylight in the Rockies and Daylight in Sochi!

    Works for me!

  41. UncleBucky says:

    Clever! I wish I had thought of it! Bravo!

  42. uhhuhh says:

    Oh, look, another Coke troll just got a Disqus account to lecture the gays.

    It bans “gay” and “lesbian,” bigot.

    The words “gay” and “lesbian” are not slurs, bigot. Nor are the words “gay” or “lesbian” threatening to children, bigot.

  43. uhhuhh says:

    No, you’re a troll with no comment history.

  44. Thom Allen says:

    Wrong. I typed in No2GAYZ and it worked. Another of your stupid ideas shot down. There’s no excuse for you, period.

  45. Thom Allen says:

    No, someone typed in the Russian equivalent of “fag” and it went through.

  46. mirror says:


  47. mirror says:

    It’s pretty toxic. You might need an EIS before you did that, or at least a haz mat team available for cleanup.

  48. mirror says:

    Thank you!

  49. dula says:


  50. askance says:

    You can’t share it with Pepsi either, but PepsiMax works lol

  51. gfjmcginnis says:

    But it will let you type in, “Rug Muncher” so I guess if the term is derogatory, Coke is just fine with that

  52. askance says:

    I experimented a bit and it seems they don’t allow a mix of letters and numbers. For instance completely innocuous ones like Jake 4 were banned. It also banned Principle 6, sadly)

  53. hoagies says:

    Looks like you’re twisting words to get offended, normal people is obviously referring to non paranoid conspiracy people, both gay and straight.

    But then again you are the one making ad money by deceiving people like this so it’s to be expected.

  54. Moderator3 says:

    Normal people? Bye.

  55. Turtles says:

    It also bans:






    It just filters out gibberish letter-number combinations, there’s no excuse for your level of ignorance.

  56. Turtles says:

    It also lets you type “homosexual”.

  57. Turtles says:

    It doesn’t ban homosexual.

    It does ban any slur I’ve put into it, including “fag” and “faggot”, along with “sex”, “fellatio”, “vagina”, “penis”, etc.

    “Straight” has obvious non sexual uses that are arguably more common than it’s use as slang for heterosexuality.

    To normal people, this is OBVIOUSLY an overly broad sexuality and swear/slur filter, and NOT an elaborate soda conspiracy against gays. This is Alex-Jones level of stupidity and willing deception.

    Plus, if you were to continue assuming that this is a conspiracy, then you would also have to accept that, in your conspiracy world, Coke is also attacking homophobes and racists, due to their filtering of slurs.

    Please don’t play dumb for the sake of being offended, your craziness reflects poorly on everyone else. Nitpicking child-safe wordfilters to form a conspiracy theory is not activism.

  58. EquallyMarried says:

    Appropriately, they let you post this….

  59. Reese says:

    Exactly what I was just thinking!

  60. Stephen Clark says:

    Just say…

  61. shawkenawe says:

    I never drink that crap anyway, so no sacrifice for me. Coke: It’s the new “Chick-Fil-A!”

  62. L on Wheels says:

    Lesbians are banned. Bigots are not. Fuck you, Coke!

  63. uhhuhh says:

    When they decided to defend the Coke-logo-wearing Olympics thugs who bashed the Russian kid for waiving a rainbow flag, they succeeded in “pissing off” the gay community, and I, frankly, don’t give a damn what their intentions are–whether homophobically malignant or homophobically clueless. I don’t need “protecting” by a bunch of clueless fucking heterosexuals who ban me from using the name of my own fucking sexual orientation.

    Why is your no-comment-history ass here presuming to instruct us gay folks?

  64. Numerology says:

    Honestly, I feel like they did this because the word Gay would be used incorrectly and negatively by immature little pricks. I don’t think the entire corporation said “Let’s just piss off the LGBT community”. For example, in games, you also are not allowed to use the word gay for a character name, like World of Warcraft. This isn’t a sign from the developers saying they don’t like your lifestyle. It’s a pre-understanding that people are going to screw with the word and take it out of context. Classic example being kids who play Call of Duty, who get killed and whine, “That is so gay!”

  65. Steve L says:

    Typing in “Homosexual” worked for me.

  66. uhhuhh says:

    Actually, it doesn’t allow SOH8 either, so it seems that it just doesn’t like numbers mixed with letters.

  67. Stonelesscutter says:

    The name generator is not giving me any trouble.

  68. Gkar says:

    It let me type in “homophobe”

  69. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    Only if it is Coke that you already own. We don’t want to buy any.

  70. StraightGrandmother says:

    I wonder if they banned Gay in other languages

  71. StraightGrandmother says:

    I am on an iPad for a couple more weeks so I can’t do this.
    We need somebody to sit on the hashtag & take screenshots of the Coke cans along with the Twitter names of who made them.
    We can put an excellent slide show together with them.
    Would anybody here be willing to do that?
    The creativity of what people are coming up with should be saved and presented as an editorial back to Coke and the World.

  72. Max_1 says:

    Mine. :)

  73. StraightGrandmother says:

    We gotta start taking video of us pouring out coke onto the streets
    Just like we Dumped Stoli and all,Russian Vodkas

  74. StraightGrandmother says:

    In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends
    MLK JR

  75. StraightGrandmother says:

    Good one

  76. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    The problem is that there are many LGBT people who don’t know about this. We all need to get the word out. Coke is showing its hubris, because those in control feel they are too big to hurt. We may not be able to bring them down, but we can sure give them a hurting.

  77. Max_1 says:

    Long ago I said to go after the sponsors who sunk money into a venture for profit marketing scheme…
    … Why do they support the LGBTQ community here at home, just not in Russia? Marketing schemes.

  78. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    That leaves no doubt.

  79. goulo says:

    What… as if drinking Pepsi is notably healthier than drinking Coke?
    Neither of them is exactly healthy…

  80. goulo says:

    Hurray for Esperanto letters! :)

  81. AnthonyLook says:

    COKE BANNED NOH8; not only BIGOTS at COKE but hostile ones at that.

  82. AnthonyLook says:

    Time to boycott COKE.

  83. Sane Canadian says:

    One more try with a different browser

  84. zorbear says:

    Maybe if we made them wear a sign of some sort — kinda like a pink triangle or a Star of David… I know! Make them wear a badge with the “not” symbol slashed across a picture of Jesus!

    No, wait, that won’t work either…

  85. chris10858 says:

    Lets do to the Coke namebrand what the lgbt community did to Coors after their homophobic actions and support.

  86. jared says:

    to me this is more compelling than any of the other posts re:coke/sochi. The last few posts implicating coke have been secondary implication (a logo on clothes, etc.), not terribly hard to explain away, however this is straight from the source. Now there is no doubt. Really terrific!

  87. jared says:

    Fantastic digging again John!

  88. HolyMoly says:

    Time to dump Coke.

    There are tons of other cola brands out there, and most of them are much better than Coke or Pepsi. I was clicking around on YouTube, looking at some things totally unrelated to soda, but then I came across this video which I found interesting:

    Just kind of opened my eyes to the different possibilities out there. Most made with real sugar, thank you very much! (I’ve long been disappointed with the high fructose corn syrup.) I’m sure a Google search would turn up all sorts of small soda bottlers that probably have a much better product, if anyone’s interested.

  89. Monophylos Fortikos says:

    One last time-wasting test: the filter is easily defeated by substituting a character with a diacritical mark, e.g. as in “Ĝay”.

  90. Cocacollaborator says:


  91. Cocacollaborator says:

    Here’s mine

  92. Monophylos Fortikos says:

    “Rentboy”, “Twink”, and “Fairy” are all OK. “Poof” is not.

  93. Ninong says:

    It accepted both Boytoy and Toyboy.

  94. StraightGrandmother says:

    They CANNOT explain away NOH8
    They can maybe explain away (maybe) Gay as not wanting people to make negative comments denigrating gay people.

    But, they cannot explain away BANNING
    Which can ONLY be used in a positive manner and it is well known pro gay campaign.

  95. judybrowni says:

    Pepsi tastes better, too.

  96. Anonymous says:

    I’m sure they’ll play it off as an accident.

  97. Tony says:

    The giant restaurant chain I work for is switching to Pepsi. Cant wait til we get that poison out of our restaurants.

  98. Jim Olson says:

    FWIW, the word “homosexual” works.

  99. StraightGrandmother says:

    OMG They Banned-
    Someone sure worked on this to make SURE that no pro gay comments will go through

  100. FLL says:

    You can also hyphenate, but if “gay” is a separate word (followed by a word space), Coke rejects it.

  101. FLL says:


  102. FLL says:

    Compound nouns are apparently OK with Coca-Cola, as long as it’s one word. I used “Gayactivist” and it went through just fine.

  103. FLL says:

    Not surprising for the company that sponsored the 1936 Berlin Olympics. McDonald’s wasn’t around in the 1930s, so they can’t match Coke’s pro-Nazi record. Neither company can accomplish any good at the Sochi Olympics because neither company is a news network capable of reporting Russian government oppression or protests against the Russian government. The international press will be at Sochi, ready to report on the asswipe Kremlin regime: BBC, Agence France-Presse, et al. Will Coca-Cola and McDonald’s have their journalists reporting on human rights issues? Oh, no. Wait. Coca-Cola and McDonald’s aren’t news networks. They only sell soft drinks or burgers and fries. Duh.

  104. I hope Coke has just alienated an entire generation, and that’s probably a good thing. No one needs their crap anyway.

  105. usagi says:

    There were so many possibilities for them to pull this out of the fire, not the least of which was to leave things alone and let it be in the purview of people hooked in to social media. Now it’s not about Sochi anymore. It’s all about Coke and their corporate homophobia. Okay, they’ve dared us to hurt them enough that they notice.
    My first thought, everyone who has a Coke machine in their workplace and works in a place with an inclusive anti-discrimination policy, contact HR and Facilities on Monday and ask that they be replaced.

  106. Jazmine C Brockington says:

    Aha!!! This worked!!! :)

  107. Jim Olson says:

    “Silenced” worked.

  108. Hue-Man says:

    Is it only English-speaking gays who have been made to disappear? I tried changing the .co to .ca expecting a French version but that didn’t work.

    Someone at Coke HQ must be celebrating with a Stoli and Coke!

  109. MonicaR62 says:

    transgender works..

  110. MichaelS says:

    “gay” is not permitted… but “Pervert” is. As is “Breeder”. And “Hate-Monger”. And the worst yet: “Homo-Basher”, “Fag-Basher”, and “Gay-Hater”. So, accoding to Coke, “Gay” is out but “Gay-hating” is apparently in…

  111. StraightGrandmother says:

    You can’t use the word Queer either

  112. Tone says:

    “Refuse Coke” works, “Boycott Coke” does not. “Boy” works, and so does “Cott” but not together
    Big Coke is fucking us sideways… again, I like tap water better anyway.

  113. Monophylos Fortikos says:

    Ugh. Fortunately there’s no need to listen to him, especially since the “G” stands for “Graphics” so pronouncing it like “J” is a silly idea even aside from the silliness of saying “GIF” the same way as a brand of peanut butter.

  114. Monophylos Fortikos says:

    A few quick tests: “Queer” is out; “Gaylord” is out (sorry, Mitch); “Ghey” is all right, though.

  115. Matt says:

    The word “Bisexual” worked too.

  116. davidinchelseama says:

    Got this one through:

  117. davidinchelseama says:

    And another: “No to COKE.” This is fun. Coke should be ashamed of themselves.

  118. Will Welch says:

    We can still continue to fuck with them though (and I think we should) I typed “not straight” and “Hosexmo” and it went through.

  119. clarknt67 says:

    I made this one!

    Share the fun of sending a #CheersToSochi message on a Coke®, with me! #shareaCokeza #LGBT #Sochi2014— Scott Wooledge (@Clarknt67) January 26, 2014

  120. Matt Rogers says:

    I think you’re describing a “gif” or “gif file.” Most people pronounce it with a hard g, but the inventor has clarified that it’s pronounced like “jif.”

  121. 2patricius2 says:

    Sure enough. I typed Gay Man and got the “Let’s pretend” message. Then Straight Man and it went right through.

  122. davidinchelseama says:

    I was able to make a can that reads “Anti-Sochi.” and posted it to Facebook.

  123. crazymonkeylady says:

    Suddenly, I can’t buy Coke anymore. Tap water is good! And coffee…

  124. StraightGrandmother says:

    I don’t understand your comment Scott.
    Hope you read my comment above about “You in trouble now”

  125. StraightGrandmother says:

    You know those short video clips that are a loop, they play over and over with no sound?
    What are those called.
    I saw one on Buzzfeed that loops with a woman saying to another woman
    “You in trouble now”
    See that is the short short video I think John could add to this article.

  126. clarknt67 says:

    #CheersToSochi! They will let you make this:

    Make your own for #Sochi sponsor Coca-Cola! #shareaCokeza— Adam Feldman (@FeldmanAdam) January 23, 2014

  127. Anonymous says:

    This is not an accident. The word “gay” triggers an automated response from their contact page. That’s how they’ve been “handling” the crisis since it got media attention.

  128. Indigo says:

    Good! I like knowing where the bigots are.

  129. Samuel Bronkowitz says:

    Lots of fun to be had coming up with creative names. BOTTOMBOY:
    Man on Man:
    See how far you can go and post with the hashtag #shareaCokeza

  130. Will Welch says:

    I know someone who’s mother has the first name “Gay”.
    I guess we’re starting to really pissed them off.

  131. Janus303 says:

    Never mind there are actually people named Gay. Just ask reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg at the New York Times for example.

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