LGBTQ+ and Social Media; an extremely brief history

As most know, June is pride month. A month where the LGBTQ+ community gets to celebrate all the strives they’ve made over the years in equality, and judgement. But to not forget what hardships were faced in the past because, as George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.

Social media has had an immeasurable impact on pride month and the LGBTQ+ community. Helping spread news of events going on during the month and year-round, but it also helps the spread of the unfortunate occurrences such as; the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida in June 2016. Where 49 people were shot dead and at least 53 people were wounded. This showed the world that there was still hatred and discrimination against this community and its people. To this day there still is discrimination and hatred against the community but this event and the coverage it got across social media brought to light that this fight is far from over. This is the second worst shooting to happen in United States history.

With the awful events we see, there are some good. Started in 2010 in the United States, the It Gets Better movement has reached out and helped millions of LGBTQ+ youth worldwide. Like most movements, the It Gets Better movement had a sad beginning; A pandemic of teenagers in the United States were committing suicide because they were bullied and cyber-bullied for being gay and there needed to be a stop to this. The three words “It gets better”, so simple yet so impactful. Letting those who need it most, know that the bullying and discrimination is temporary and that yes, it is rough and hard to believe it gets better, but it does. Gaining support all over social media with many companies, celebrities, politicians, and average people making videos, expressing that the feelings of doubt are natural but stating the importance in the youth’s lives. Years later the It Gets Better movement has expanded far from the United States with chapters all over the world. Impacting the lives of those who need it most, and it all started on YouTube.

With sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Discord, people in the LGBTQ+ community are able to find their communities and others like their’s, all over the world. Making it easier than ever before to feel included and accepted for who you are. Seeing these online communities and being able to be a part of and participate with them is essential for younger people who are “coming out” because it is not always an easy thing to do. Some seek guidance and advice on the best way to do it and seek further help of what they can do if their families do not accept them for who they are. But also, with being able to find out about events such as the Pride Parade. Without social media the search for this advice and these answers would be increasingly tedious.

There is a subject that is widely speculated with Pride Month, and that is the inclusion and promotion of large corporations. I hate to think of corporations only being on board with Pride Month and the parade as a type of promotion for a demographic they largely either ignore or want no part of, but the reality is that it happens. This is known as “Rainbow Capitalism”. It is where corporations only advertise and make products specified at the LGBTQ+ community in the month of June. Companies such as Budweiser UK, made special pint glasses with the different flags of the community saying they have their support. This however, received much backlash from the community with people saying Budweiser was only making these in order to make profit off them.

Even the candy Skittles had an ad campaign involving the change of the colours of the candy. Making all the skittles white with the slogan “During Pride, only one rainbow matters. So, we’ve given up ours”. This ad campaign received mixed reviews all over the web, some saying it uttered exclusion rather than inclusion because of it seeming so ingenuine in their efforts and simply wanted to capitalize on the month. While others genuinely loved the ad campaign calling it subversive and humble, posting photos online with their love for the idea.

What most don’t know about Pride Month or the parade is it’s origin. It all started on June 28th, 1969 in New York City. A raid of the Stonewall Inn- a local gay club – involving the arrest of 13 patrons on questionable charges. This infuriated the community resulting in riots. Riots that were started by a black transgender woman named: Marsha P. Johnson, who threw the first brick and was one of the biggest activists. For six days the rioting and protesting lasted, outside of the bar, and neighboring streets.

That was merely a brief history of the origin. The entire story is a blog post unto it’s self. If you’re interested, here you can find the history of Marsha and other things she was involved in.

Also, what is your opinion on large corporations utilizing this month to obtain extra revenue? Do you believe their support is sincere or do you believe they exploit it and use it as a trend?

It’s PRIDE month, what’s social media’s impact?

PRIDE month; Origins to Exploits

Works Cited

Better, It Gets. YouTube. n.d. 14 June 2020.

Biography. Marsha P. Johnson Biography. 24 June 2017. 14 June 2020.

Collier, Sade. .Affinity. 5 June 2019. 13 June 2020.

Hoffman, Ashley. Time. 14 June 2017. 13 June 2020.

Nicholas. Big Think. 2013 July 2013. 13 June 2020.

Ralph Ellis, Ashley Fantz, Faith Karimi, Eliott C. McLaughlin. CNN. 13 June 2016. 13 June 2020.

Skittles. 5 June 2019. 13 June 2020.

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