You have no doubt seen this dachshund's adorable face online. Her real name is Whitney Chewston, and depending on whether you stopped scrolling to take in the context and accompanying text, you may not be aware that every time you saw it a homophobic incident had taken place.
The innocent dog is often seen sitting next to a glass of red wine with a homophobic caption like "not too fond of gay people" or "I just don't want to see it in public." But of course dogs can't be homophobic.
Homophobic Dog (or Not Too Fond Of Gay People) is the technical term for this latest hateful meme spewed out from the darkest bowels of the internet: Instagram. KnowYourMeme explains the origin story:
The image was posted to Instagram in June 2019 and first appeared as a meme on Instagram in March 2021, gaining viral spread over the course of the year and inspiring users to place new quotes over the photo of the dog.
On August 14th, Twitter user @kuroufo posted a blank template of the dog, writing, "what a nice looking dog. i wonder what its opinions on gay people are"
@kuroufo's hate-enticing tweet got over 34,000 likes and 3,600 retweets in seven months, speaking volumes to the systemic homophobia in our society. Even famous rapper Lil Nas X got in on the hate parade, requesting his 7,5 million followers to partake in homophobic memery.
Whitney Chewston is owned by Ben Campbell and Logan Hickman, who are most assuredly not homophobes. "Her dads are gay," they said in a March 2022 video. "It’s interesting, almost ironic, her voice on Instagram has always been kind of sassy and a little gay, so it’s very ironic that she’s branded as homophobic."
Disturbingly, the homophobic dog is getting increasingly violent. Terrorist type captions (that read, among other things, "just ran one over can't wait to kill them all off xoxo") are now normalizing violence against LGBTQ+ people to tens of thousands of people.
Worse still, the meme is showing no sign of slowing down. It is conceivable that it could eventually reach upwards of a billion people. How many of those people will view this normalization of homophobic violence as license to kill?
It is also clear that even if we could pass a law to make possession of the meme a crime, it would be incredibly difficult for authorities to remove it without coordinated international effort. The most we can ask for, at the moment, is for the social platform algorithms to filter hate images out and put posters on a list.
We have reached out to Twitter and Instagram and will update the story when they respond.