Mark S. King

Walmart Gets Better

Filed By Mark S. King | March 23, 2011 12:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: It Gets Better, Walmart

Yesterday I had a conference call with Walmart PR manager Ravi Jariwala, and Crosby Cromwell, a manager for constituent relations. We discussed the fact that I wasn't able to use the word "gay" in my review on the Walmart web site for the new, marvelous book It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living.

Thumbnail image for walmart-logo.pngOh, and I kind of blogged about it across the whole wide world on all sorts of LGBT sites, saying how much it pissed me off.

"I apologize that this situation has been created," Ravi began. "It was a systemic oversight, in which 'gay' was on a list of filtered words. Certainly it makes absolute sense for you to include this word in your review.... This is a no-brainer for us."

I'm pleased to report that "gay" is now a perfectly acceptable word to include in posted comments on Walmart's site. Other words have also been cleared, including lesbian, homosexual, bisexual and transgendered. And my review of the book, as I originally wrote it, has been posted on the Walmart site.

Here is Walmart's official statement on the matter:

Recently it was brought to our attention that Mark King was unable to complete a review of the book "It Gets Better" on We regret that a filter did not allow his review of the book to post and we quickly worked to resolve this technical issue.

We reached out to Mark directly to discuss the issue and, as an extra measure, we have reviewed the system to ensure that it will allow the use of all appropriate words related to sexual orientation and gender identity.

There is probably no national retail chain with as problematic a reputation as Walmart, and I can only imagine the topics that other advocates would have wanted me to broach with these corporate representatives. But I had one issue, one specific complaint that I asked to be addressed. And on this day, on this issue, Walmart did right by the LGBT community.

Now, everybody go buy It Gets Better!

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.

Would now be a good time to bring up their union-busting or low wages or...?

Shhh... it's time to give Walmart free, good publicity.

Hey, we castigate them incessantly when they do wrong... it's only fair that we give them props when they do something right.

Mikefromoakville | March 23, 2011 1:50 PM

Well done Mark!

But yeah, it does beg the question of "why was the word gay filtered in the first place?" I don't suppose they voluntarily addressed that issue?

I like that you took the high road and stuck to your specific complaint.

Battle won, but the war continues...

I will NOT be buying your book and I will encourage everyone I know not to buy your book. It's 2011. Get with the fucking program. Fags who make business deals with Walmart are homophobic.

This is like when my local Gay Inc chapter, Equal Rights Washington, wanted to hold an event "in partnership" with union-busting, anti-health care reform bastards Whole Foods. We'll never win equality if we kick labor, communities of color, women, and everyone else shat upon by this society on our way up. When will the queer movement finally wake the fuck up and understand that there is a world going on around us that we have to engage in or shut up? LEFTIES, PROGRESSIVES, ANYONE WHO CONSIDERS HIM OR HERSELF A STEP UP FROM NEANDERTHALS KNOWS THAT WALMART IS BAD.

Except for Mark S. King. Go buy his book, stuff his pockets, and shed a tear the next time you hear a queer kid kill himself.

I would definitely encourage people to buy this book elsewhere, especially from an independent bookstore or directly from the It Gets Better website.

But it isn't Mark's book and if you think this post is telling people to go buy the book at Walmart then you've missed the point.

I agree, if you're gonna get it try a local independent book store or something!

Oh MY, Lonnie. Your shrill self righteous freak-out is, well, kind of scary/hilarious.

Facts, sweetie: this is not my book. I am featured in the book and, because it benefits the gay teen crisis hotline The Trevor Project, I am receiving no compensation for my essay in the book. The same applies to the others who contributed.

No one connected with this book made a "business deal with Walmart." Walmart can purchase books through distributors just like any other outlet, without the involvement of anyone connected with writing the book.

Try to remain calm.

Hey Lonnie. Try less caffeine after lunch. I know you need something to get through the workday, but I think you should slow down a wee bit.

1) It's not Mark's book. That's a simple starting point.
2) Mark doesn't say you should buy the book from Wal-Mart. He's talking about their rating and review system. Anyone can leave a review - without purchasing anything.
3) You complain about kids killing themselves, but castigate a book about it while still managing to work in an anti-gay slur. My head whirls almost as fast as yours seems to.

Bottom line: Chill the fuck out.

Wal*Mart may be getting better but until they stop their business practices and policies that are harmful to others I'll continue not shopping there and encoraging others not to as well. I'll grant them a golf slap for this at least though.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | March 25, 2011 3:30 AM

Boycott WalMart.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | March 25, 2011 3:33 AM

Boycott WalMart.

John Gagon | March 25, 2011 3:40 AM

Interesting. I've been following a long here from the time you first posted a nice review, then the unfortunate banning of that review and now it's come back to a happy ending of sorts. A surprise to be sure given "Walmart"; but hey, that's gotta feel good. Walmart handing out come-uppance that quick is like Pastor Phelps of Westboro handing out candy at a teletubby screening. (ok, not quite but you get my drift). I might have to buy some GreatValue faux botanicals this week.