June signals the beginning of Pride month globally, that celebrates the LGBTQ+ community and reinforces the need for inclusivity through colourful parades and festivals. Pride month has its roots in the Stonewall riots that took place in New York in June 1969. The riots saw the LGBTQ+ community mobilise to protest a police raid at Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar located on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village, New York. The event was a turning point for the fight for equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community and birthed the modern-day gay rights movement.
Today, over 70 countries across the world come together to celebrate Pride month with vibrant displays of solidarity for the LGBTQ+ community. Pride parades around the globe attract millions of people every year, but the coronavirus pandemic has prevented pride parades from taking to the streets this year. The internet, however, has come to the rescue, allowing the LGBTQ+ community and its allies to unite online and display their support through virtual parades, concerts and many other forms of entertainment. Some popular Pride month events that are taking place include: Pride Barcelona – 27th June, Global Pride – 27th June and Oslo pride – 27th June.
The Internet As A Site Of Resistance
The events associated with Pride month moving online in the midst of a pandemic is only one example in the many ways in which the internet has provided a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community to express themselves in the most authentic way possible. In the history of social media, protest movements and acts of resistance have taken on a renewed significance because of a brand new platform that was given to them. It has completely changed the way people interact with each other. The online community has been instrumental in important protest movements in the last decade, the most recent being the protests in Hong Kong. With all that the internet has to offer, it has successfully been able to give a voice to the marginalised, allowing them to enter the mainstream.
Social Media: An Ally To The LGBTQ+ Community
Many individuals in the LGBTQ+ community may struggle to come to terms with their sexuality and often don’t find enough support within their families. In such a situation, the sense of community that social media provides, helps people feel less vulnerable and alone. Dedicated LGBTQ+ groups and communities on Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and Twitter provide everyone a space to express their feelings and personal experiences without any judgement. Members of the LGBTQ+ community who face harassment and discrimination can shed light on their situation because of social media platforms.
A lot of people who haven’t come out to their family members find solace and comfort on social media. The community that is built online helps foster a sense of belonging while also providing essential information to anyone who wants to understand issues that affect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. Most importantly, social media helps encourage inclusivity and representation. Blog posts, pictures, and other vivid visual representations by members of the LGBTQ+ community help normalise their experiences by showing it to the world. People who struggle to understand the nuances of sexuality and gender have lots to learn on these platforms. Websites like the LGBTQ+ Experiment serve as resources to help cis-hetero people be effective allies to the community.
With such compelling content online, the internet becomes a world of its own, where acceptance is an achievable reality for the LGBTQ+ community. Social media has enabled political organising by the LGBTQ+ community, especially in areas where it’s very dangerous to do so offline. Despite continued efforts by the LGBTQ+ community, individuals are still victims of violent crimes that are sustained attempts at the erasure of their identities.
The Flip Side To Social Media
Social media has allowed the LGBTQ+ community to reclaim public space in a distinct way. However, it can also be a toxic environment because of bullying and hate speech that is directed at members of the LGBTQ+ community. The aid of anonymity allows people to post hateful content and target individuals and their freedom to express themselves. Despite these obstacles, the good seems to outweigh the bad. Pride month is a shining example of how the virtual world can inspire unique ways to bring together communities, promote solidarity and continue celebrations despite the bleak present.