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Has Twitter become the new outlet for the closeted LGBTQ community?

In a recent CTV news article, Latvia’s foreign minister, Edgars Rinkevics, officially came out to the world through one of the world’s most highly treasured social media mediums, Twitter. His post not only utilized the hashtag, #ProudToBeGay, but also marked its highest user activity of over 1200 retweets and 2300 favorites, as opposed to his tweets’ usual frequency of 20 interactions at most. This post made him the first openly homosexual Cabinet member in the Baltic countries.

Social media, today, has to be acknowledged for not only its power to alter mass opinion and instill ideals, but also as a medium for people to express whom they truly are. For hundreds of years, people have been forced to hide in the dark about their sexuality. However, social media has garnered enough power and momentum for the LGBTQ community to remove societal barriers and embrace their true identity.

For example, many of my classmates have used both Facebook and Twitter to come out. Posts such as these have become the norm, as now posting your sexuality is made official through Facebook as opposed to social interaction. People believe that by posting it on social media, it makes it more official and reaches a broader audience considering that anyone they have met at one point in their life is on Facebook. This eliminates the need to essentially go one by one and inform everyone.

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Image courtesy of Flickr user Bhupinder Nayyar.

With important and powerful people such as Edgards Rinkevics, and even Apple’s newly appointed CEO, Tim Cook, the LGBTQ community is finally gaining the courage and support to come out to the world. However, it also prompts people to question whether human interaction is deteriorating as well. Facebook and Twitter are now capturing huge life changing moments such as these, and such posts can not simply garner the emotion and sympathy that occurs when someone actually comes out to their family and friends.

I know this because one of my good friends recently came out and he did so by telling my friends and I face to face, as opposed to through a Facebook post. The sympathy and strength we gave him to go and inform his parents comes nowhere close to social media. So, although social media is making it easier for the LGBTQ community to express themselves, it might not be making it better. Although people utilize social media to express their sexuality, there is a high chance that family and even some close friends will be placed on limited privacy. So, are you really coming out? Or are you coming out to the people you know will not judge you as much because most of your friends on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. are acquaintances as opposed to people who hold true value in your life?

However, this need to post huge moments in our lives is not only limited to sexuality. People now post about receiving a new job or getting engaged before they even tell their family or best friends. I believe we need to start reevaluating our priorities because for today’s generation, it seems that social currency outweighs emotional and sympathetic experiences.

Featured Image courtesy of Flickr user Keiyac.

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