The new version of Apple's iPhone operating system comes with new emojis, the popular emoticons that are often used in texting and email, especially by young kids and nerdy adults like me. Two of these new pictograms represent gay and lesbian couples for the first time.
The icons are placed next to the previous relationship-related emojis showing a heterosexual couple holding hands and a heterosexual couple with a son. One shows two men holding hands. The other shows two women in the same position.
From Japan to the world
Emojis started in Japan. Meaning picture (e) and letter (moji), the pictograms quickly become a standard across this visually oriented culture. Apple introduced an emoji keyboard when it got the iPhone into the Japanese market, knowing that emojis were fundamental to compete in that market.
But then Westerners, fascinated by their cuteness, quickly adopted them too. Software appeared to enable that special Apple emoji keyboard on any iPhone or iPad. Every kid and nerdy adult with an Apple device quickly adopted them, and emojis spread like wildfire. Now you can find them everywhere.
Apple has greatly expanded the emoji palette with the new iOS 6, including these two gay and lesbian icons. I wouldn't be surprised if same-sex couples with babies appear in iOS 7. [Thanks Logan!]