I’ve been learning Spanish over the past couple of months with Duolingo, and it’s been fun and surprisingly effective. Once I’ve mastered Spanish, I think I’m going to live my dream of learning Japanese (and maybe Italian).
But there’s one really annoying thing about it — beyond the fact that the app will hound you to death with notifications as if you have nothing better to do with your life than sit there and do language exercises — and that’s the proliferation of exercises on the app and website that subtly bring in gay and lesbian subtexts.
Here’s an example: on Saturday morning, I did a speaking lesson. The way those work is that you have 10 sentences that you have to listen to and speak back. Duolingo has these cartoon characters (which are politically correct enough that one of them wears a burka) that you encounter throughout your journey on the app or website, and they’re the ones to speak what you must speak back.
In this particular lesson, two of the exercises had male characters talking about “mi novio” (my boyfriend). Another male character spoke about “mi esposo” (my husband), while a female character said something about “mi esposa” (my wife). If you’re keeping score, that’s four out of 10 exercises dealing with same-sex relationships.
Lest you think that this is some special phenomenon for Pride Month Advent, I’ve noticed several gay and lesbian exercises throughout my time using the app. While none of the characters are explicitly gay in and of themselves — though I have my doubts about one of them — many of the characters will blurt out a sentence about a same-sex relationship from time to time.
Duolingo also has stories that teach you reading comprehension in the language you’re learning. A couple of them have had lesbian characters in them, including one that I’ve inexplicably heard twice about a woman who tells a cab driver that she’s sad because her new wife doesn’t want to go on a honeymoon with her because she doesn’t like the destination.
It’s a strange thing, and it’s not so bad that I’m inclined to quit using it — it’s not trying to convince me to become gay or to turn kids trans, so I can overlook it long enough to learn Spanish. And hopefully Japanese. And maybe Italian. (Although I’m a little curious if the Arabic lessons on Duolingo have as many gay and lesbian sentences.)
What this whole phenomenon represents is the ubiquity of the pride cult in everything we see and hear. It’s truly inescapable, which means we need to always be ready to stand up for the truth in our culture.
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