Despite how some perceive social media, it can undoubtedly be used as a platform to spread kindness and compassion. Some of us in the LGBT+ community have used social media to bring ourselves into the spotlight, and ideally, spread acceptance as far as it will reach. When some of us were little, especially those of us in smaller towns, we didn’t have much exposure to LGBT+ people and experiences. More commonly now, people do have access to social media, where anything can be at the tip of your fingers.
If you ask someone who identifies as LGBT+ how they learned to accept themselves or even how they learned the terms to describe who they are, social media will sometimes be involved in the story. I, for one, didn’t even know what a lesbian was until I started watching Glee and made an account on Tumblr; and if you scroll through Twitter, you can find numerous pages dedicated solely to LGBT+ groups. Even my grandmother will tell me about how she read an article on Facebook about something she didn’t know, like bisexuality, or a new show with leading LGBT+ characters. These stories help us learn the language to describe who we are and allow us to learn about other people who are accepted for being who they are.
This can be especially important for those in the LGBT+ community who don’t come from a supportive background. These pages and stories that are told by other people can be a huge comfort to someone who is struggling to accept themselves.
LGBT+ people are even using social media to promote their own stories. Take the amazing entertainer and drag queen RuPaul for example, who uses his platform to promote other drag queens and has even brought them into popular culture. Recently, social media has been used to bring the limelight to a sexual orientation that gets little to no attention: pansexuality. With famous singer Janelle Monáe recently coming out as pansexual, more people than ever are looking up pansexuality online and learning what it means.
Even the mainstream media is starting to join in. Platforms like Netflix have featured shows like “Queer Eye” to raise acceptance, not just tolerance, of LGBT+ people. Movies like “Love, Simon” are also starting to come out, reflecting the experiences of some, and telling more complex stories than the cliché coming out story.
In truth, it may not seem like a big deal to those who are not LGBT+, but for those of us in this community, seeing these works on the big screen or our own screen is a huge deal. Seeing ourselves reflected in these movies validates many peoples’ experiences. When we were kids, some of us didn’t get to see stories about ourselves, or watch a cute relatable love story. These stories, combined with the expansion of social media, are finally allowing people in the LGBT+ community to feel accepted and loved.
These encouraging messages help us accept and love ourselves, making our world a little braver. Through social media, we are able to spread tolerance, acceptance, and most importantly, kindness.