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Digital Riots: LGBTQ Activism & Being "Out" Online

May 20, 2020

In honour of International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and BiPhobia (May 17th – IDAHOT), and with COVID-19 delaying and cancelling Pride celebrations globally, we hosted a virtual event in celebration and exploration of digital Queer activism. Focussing on how our community can come together, celebrate, protest and thrive online while also exploring the darker side of digital activism; how as a community we can tackle negativity, abuse and trolling.

Below is a quick summary of some topics that were discussed with our panelists Meg Ten Eyck, Toya Delazy, Sophie Hunt and Kia Barnes, moderated by HER’s CEO Robyn Exton, sponsored by Adobe.

What does online activism mean to you?

Sharing content and news about the LGBTQ+ community is a mix of celebration, highlighting and bringing awareness to different topics that should be at the forefront. Using social media platforms to promote the issues that you care for is an accessible way to show people you care about, what your values are. As well, engaging in online communities, sharing causes and spotlighting issues shows how people can do their part. These types of communication and leaning into social media, allow us to continue advocating for change when we can’t do so in person.

Do you think LGBTQ+ people have a responsibility to be out and visible online?

Being an example for people who look up to you allows you to encourage other people to embrace their identities. Being free allows you to free others and not focus on the stigma around being “out”. Many people feel that it is their responsibility because of their experiences with discrimination, and not having their voices heard. People who have those experiences didn’t want to hide themselves, and hope that being out will allow people to gain the courage to live their truth. On the flip side we understand there are many factors to being out online, it’s not for everyone and being an activist is also not everyone. That’s a different journey to undertake.

Sunday is IDAHOT – there are a number of LGBTQ+ days & visibility days – do you think these play an important role – should we have more or less. What should we be doing on these days?

These days allow the LGBTQ+ community to have their space and an opportunity to celebrate their identities, honor history and bring awareness to movements happening in the community. LGBTQ+ history and culture are still not discussed in schools, and having these days are providing a narrative for people who either don’t know about these issues or to bring awareness for the younger generation. While there is the chance for the calendar to be saturated with holidays, which could decrease the importance, these annual days bring important conversations and narratives to life.

How about Pride? How do we stay visible & vocal when at home? 

Many Pride organizations have lost focus on what we are commemorating and celebrating. This at home Pride provides opportunity bring back the work, activism and awareness to what Pride originally stood for – a riot. This situation is bringing more entities together, and building a community among Prides around the world. We don’t want to ignore these feelings of loneliness, when we would normally be able to come to the event and experience this feeling of freedom. Continue to advocate, reach out to Pride organizations, tune into local virtual events and continue to spread the message of Pride.

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