05 February 2013

Social networks a curse or a blessing?

Has Social networks improved or hurt gay life or is it somewhere in between?

 Social networks has been a driving force that either brings us together to feel we are in a way apart of a community; and at times can tear us apart, if not used right. To me social media is one of the greatest tools that we can use. Not only do you find others who share in the same interests as you, but it's also great way to share and inform and break down walls that divide us. Last year social media like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and others were a driving force for three states to sign into law marriage equality. Michael Cole-Schwartz, director of media efforts for the Human Rights Campaign stated, "That we win these fights because Americans know that LGBT people are their neighbors, their cousins, their aunts and uncles, the people they sit next to in church, and the people they shop with at the grocery store." Social networks have made the invisible become visible, but it also has granted those with a negative voice to hide and become anonymous bullies. Networks have also created relationships and friendships from across the globe. Changed and enriched views on cultures and brought a light on hidden gays. Where would we be without the success of blogs and books about men living on the down low; or which celebrity has finally come out of the closet.

 Gay youth seem to be coming out younger and younger these days. I remember before the rise of Facebook and everyone was still on MySpace while cell phones still looked like a bricks and texting along with touch screens were still an imagination. Coming out was a daunting task and still is for so many, it is never like the movies. There were not many support groups other than PFLAG (Parents, Friends, of Lesbian and Gays), that you would lean on . While friends and family at times were misinformed and lead by rumors. Social networks can lead a double edged sword when it comes to coming out. At one hand we have a growing online community, immediate access to help and resources to make a newbie or even seasoned gays feel safe . The community is extremely important, not only does it become a safety net cause you are surrounded by others who are like minded. It also gives protection against others who wish to harm. Recently, the tension between gay youth and non gay youth seems to be slowly improving however, it is still a sore topic. With efforts like the Trevor project and other online community gay youths can receive the help that they need. While being reassured that life does get better as you get older. Social networks not only create a safety net, but it also created a different type of community, and changed the gay community.

 Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Google+, to name a few; have connected the gay community differently than before. Now you can not only meet local gays and share experiences, go on dates, meet new friends. You can also share the human experience with someone across the world. Learn about different cultures, and share the similarities of being gay around the world. What I have gathered is that no matter where you live in the world being gay is still a hard topic for most. Weather you live in the most liberal places or the harshest against gays. There is always people who do on understand being gay and act on their intolerance. The difference is how society reacts as well as the government. In California social networks helped pass into law; the first in the nation, to ban therapies to 'cure' gay minors. Stating therapists can't provide minors with therapy intended to change their sexual orientation. The backlash of gay social networks is seen in the gay clubs and bars although has improved.

Gay social networks sites like Grindr, Jack'd, and Scruff, changed the way we find other gays as opposed to before with the whole "guessing game". Never knowing if the guy or girl you think is hot is into the same as you. Grindr and others changed the game, now you don't have to go up to someone and ask them if their gay but, now more just say hi and wait and see if someone answers back. Although Grindr and others have brought up some issues with gay on gay relations. You can read that here. Even with these issues the gay community has improved become stronger and spread tolerance like never before. Recently with the use of social networks and outreach programs my state Maryland and 2 other states legalized marriage equality or same sex marriage by popular vote, never happened before in America. Social networks have not only brought together the gay community and made some changes to modern gays. But had changed the views others have on gays.

 Social networks can when used right breaks down some of the stereotypes many feel gays are like. Mainstream media sometimes likes to reinforced some of these stereotypes. With popular shows and reality TV, that seem to only want the typical gay that was introduced long ago, that is funny and sassy, and has attitude, and maybe a little sway and the gay voice. While not all of us are like this it does bring gay life and issues to the dinner table. Now you don't have to go face to face and say "hi, I'm gay, will you still be my friend?" Now you can just make a status update and say "I'm gay!!" While waiting for the likes and comments of friends and peers. Social media and networks can give a voice to those who normally don't have one . It can make a person who doesn't feel loved, feel loved from others and feel as though they matter in the world. Harris interactive researched 2,412 US adults (18+) the LGBT community is more active on social networks than heterosexuals. Aside from being more active on Facebook and Twitter, Facebook they also are more likely to read blogs, and as a result most likely to be receptive to social media. In the coming future as our influence on social media grows tolerance and understanding grows outside. More and more people can be honest about who they are even if it's only online..Social networks has in fact helped the gay community come together and to address issues that are inside the community.

Tell me do you think social media has helped or hurt the gay community? Send your comments below.
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