Technology and the LGBTQ+ community: What's the connection?
Issues of social justice and equality are not new and, sometimes, it feels like not much has changed over the last several decades. However, the challenges of today are met with one advantage that past generations were not privy to: technology.
The truth is that technology has advanced our conversations in ways that were unforeseeable just fifty years ago. Thanks to digital technology, we are hyper-connected to our brothers and sisters across the globe, which has had quite an impact on one community in particular: those that identify as LGBTQ+ and their allies.
Modern times call for change
If you compare the 21st century with the 20th century, tremendous progress has been made for the LGBTQ+ community. The introduction of the internet, and subsequently blogs, websites, forums, and online communities where free speech was more accessible than ever before shattered walls that held LGBTQ+ members inside.
Suddenly, it was much easier to find like-minded individuals who thought and felt the same and were passionate about their purpose in this world. In other words, many people finally felt like they found a place where they belonged.
In fact, as we’ve moved further into the 21st century, more than 90% of LGBT adults reported feeling more accepted by society than they had in the previous decade.
Even in the 1990s, reality TV played an enormous role in connecting the LGBTQ+ community. When MTV’s The Real World premiered in 1992, it exposed viewers around the world to people from all walks of life. During its third season, The Real World: San Francisco, the world met Pedro Zamora, one of the first openly-gay, AIDS-positive men to be portrayed on national television.
Thanks to modern technology, people got to see a version of themselves on screens and in popular culture for the first time ever. The message felt and heard by LGBTQ+ members was, “You have a place here. You have a voice. Use it.”
And advancements continue to come forth. There are digital and physical spaces specifically dedicated to LGBTQ+ people - such as queer-only dating apps like Her and Grindr, and online travel site Gaycities that aims to help LGBTQ+ travelers find queer-friendly places when visiting other cities - which have created safe havens for people looking to connect with others.
Bringing people together
More exposure to LGBTQ+ people has also been eye-opening to those outside that community. Instead of seeing the community as portrayed by the media, everyone can hear first-hand accounts of the trials and tribulations LGBTQ+ people face on a daily basis. It is no longer some abstract concept. It is real, it is raw, and at times it is difficult to reconcile.
This has been especially true in recent years, as anybody with a phone in their pocket can be a filmmaker. Body-cam and cell phone camera footage has brought to light the truth about the mistreatment of LGBTQ+ community members.
It’s way too real to ignore and thus allies have felt called to support their fellow human beings and be true agents of change.
For allies and LGBTQ+ individuals alike, advancements in technology have also helped to organize everyone as a community. With social media, it’s become much more efficient to spread information and calls-to-action. Whether it’s needing to rally together to peacefully protest in front of Congress, or to celebrate a recent victory, or to spread the word about how new legislation may impact LGBTQ+ families, allies and members can come together in support more readily and easily than before.
The challenge with technology
It’s unrealistic to address the ways in which technology has moved us forward without acknowledging the hard side of it as well.
More exposure in mainstream media means more vulnerability, too. Anybody with an internet connection has a huge platform to say whatever they want, whenever they want, and unfortunately that’s not always used for good. LGBTQ+ members face an incredible amount of bullying and taunting thanks to the accessibility of technology, and it comes from social, political, emotional, and physical angles.
Furthermore, more access to information also means we can more easily research and fact-find. If you’re willing to look into it, you can discover truths like the fact that gay women make less than heterosexual women, or that a significant percentage of LGBTQ+ workers are not fully “out” at work. On a positive note, access to this data means we can take action on it rather than pretending like it’s not an issue.
With any important cause, it can sometimes feel like one step forward equals two steps back, so it’s important to keep our focus on the positive progress that technology can inspire.
In the United States and Canada, June is recognized as Pride Month, and it is an opportunity to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in New York City, often considered the tipping point for the gay rights movement in the United States.
While it is a month to celebrate achievements and how far the LGBTQ+ community has come, it is also a moment to reflect and look ahead to the vast amount of work that still needs to be done.
At ConnectWise, we are working intentionally to be inclusive, be an ally for the LGBTQ+ community, and be mindful of ways that technology can continue to drive positive change. There are always ways that we can be better, and we are committed to doing so.
We are proud to play a part in the world of technology and are proud of the LGBTQ+ people we call family.
Our hope is that technology continues to pave the way for a more just and more equal future for all human beings.