With an increased number of LGBTQ+ identifying adults each year, the internet has become a growing place of advocacy and awareness. For young LGBTQ+ individuals or those still questioning their sexuality and/or gender identity, social media platforms can serve as a host for positive representation, judgment-free conversation and as a resource for advice, encouragement and education. The Trevor Project Survey found that 96% of LGBTQ+ youth say that social media has a positive impact on their mental health and well-being. In honor of June being pride month, this blog post will discuss how social media can be utilized in this way.
Social media has become a place for people from all walks of life to find representation. These platforms can be used as a resource, especially for children, to hear and see people similar to them, doing incredible things. We no longer need to depend on large television production companies to highlight the lives of people from different cultures, upbringings or communities. As a result, the LGBTQ+ community can find an increased representation on platforms like TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, etc.
When a child begins to question their sexuality and/or gender identity, finding this representation of the LGBTQ+ community can be a game-changer. Fortunately, social media has become a space filled with inspiring role models to young members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community. LGBTQ+ children can resonate with the life experiences, coming out journeys and daily struggles of these individuals and look up to them when they feel alone or lost. If a child is battling with discovering their true identity, this online community can help them see the light at the end of the tunnel.
In addition to seeing fellow LGBTQ+ members positively represented online, children turn to social media as an outlet for acceptance and comradery. While society is beginning to shift towards a more open and accepting environment for LBGTQ+ individuals, many feel that their family and friends still carry a bias or sense of judgment towards it. Whether someone has come out to those around them or not, they may be in need of a judgment-free space where they can ask questions, talk about their struggles and get input from those with similar experiences. This lack of judgment allows them to speak openly about what they are going through and how they are feeling. President and CEO of GLAAD, an organization dedicated to provoking dialogue around cultural changes to benefit the LGBTQ+ community, defined social media as a “lifeline for LGBTQ people.” During this time in their life of self-discovery and self-love, they are in desperate need of unconditional support and freedom to speak unashamedly.
Social media has also provided LGBTQ+ individuals and allies with the necessary education on all things LGBTQ+. For members of the community, it can be a useful resource for sex and relationship education. The current education system is lacking in the sense that LGBTQ+ children are often excluded from the sex and relationship education provided in school. Their identities, sexualities and experiences are neglected to be discussed and LGBTQ+ children are missing out on learning opportunities for safe and healthy sexual education. As a result, they often turn to social media to learn from other members of their community where they can find a variety of accounts and influencers happy to educate. As for LGBTQ+ allies, social media can be a great resource for learning about different gender identities, sexualities, preferred pronouns and how to be an advocate for the members of this community. Until schools and communities implement the necessary educational resources, social media and the internet will remain a primary source of education for LGBTQ+ individuals and those supporting them.
Whether you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community or an active ally, continue to utilize social media as the beneficial resource that it is. Build online communities that promote positivity, are an outlet for embracing oneself and inspire you to support others the way you wish to be supported. To learn more about the LGBTQ+ community, read here.