Matthew’s Place
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Matthew’s Place

How Young LGBTQ+ Adults are Using Social Media for Good

by Judy Bokao

Over the past few years, social media has played important roles in our ever-evolving society. Social media, like everything else, has its pro and cons — and it is hard to say for sure whether the good outweighs the bad — especially for young adults. There have been a lot of shifts and making of new norms; slowly social media has changed from social networks that are meant to help us preserve human relationships to a place where people feel safe indulging in a myriad of anti-social behaviors. Currently, the central conversation has been on the impact social media may have on the emotional well-being of LGBTQ+ teenagers.

Social media is a powerful platform that takes up most of young adults’ time. For an LGBTQ+ teenager, it can be a bit hard, because as much as it offers a new space for freedom of self-expression, it comes with a few risks with huge consequences. For a young LGBTQ+ teenager who is not out, it means carefully monitoring their online self-expression, creating multiple accounts, using privacy and security controls and strategically managing their friendship networks because they are protecting their secrets. The internet can be an ugly place for young LGBTQ+ teenagers because of cyberbullying. It is hard to combat this “trolling” culture since in most cases the bullies are anonymous. Luckily, things are changing for the better as young LGBTQ+ adults continue breaking new grounds by carving out safe spaces for their marginalised voices.

Young LBGTQ+ people are creating new civic community spaces from the privacy of their bedrooms. These forums have diversity and help young queer adults to explore issue pertaining sexualities through subcultural online communities. These forums have empowered these teenagers to push the frontier of what is considered activism and come up with creative new ways of dealing with oppression and discrimination. The young people are making content for themselves and not necessarily following the angle the mainstream media takes on their issues. They are using their experiences and their stories to inspire other young LGBTQ+ adults and are creating content in their own words with no chance of leaving things to be misconstrued. They are using humor and creativity to call out the idiocy of online hate and discrimination. They are also using these forums such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to start and raise charities for issues that affect them.

Young queer adults are also going online to find information on health issues, particularly mental health. It is a known fact that most LGBTQ+ people have a harder time accessing health institutions compared to straight people. There have even been cases where they have been denied help by health institutions because of their sexual orientation. By indulging in digital health practices, they are able to access health information that they need. It is reported that LGBTQ+ youth are more likely than straight youth to go online to find out information on depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. They even have safe and supportive forums where they can share their health story and help others who are going through the same issues. These sites provide them with digital tools to help them cope and improve their health.

As much as social media can be a dark place, there is hope at the end of the tunnel for LGBTQ+ youth. By creating a community online and advocating for change and empowering themselves with information, these youth are leaning to survive and are winning at it. The utilization of social media for a good cause is something that can be emulated by others. There is so much good that is being accomplished by these LGBTIQ online communities, we need to focus on the good and do away with the bad online subcultures for the sake of our society.

About the Author:

Judy Bokao is 20 years old and was born in Ethiopia but relocated to Nairobi two years ago. She is passionate about everyone having equal rights and is also big on conservation and speaking up for our planet. Judy loves reading and photography and is just a free-spirited young lady trying to grow into a woman her mom can be proud of.

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Matthew’s Place is by and for LGBTQ+ youth and a program of the Matthew Shepard Foundation l #EraseHate

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Matthew's Place

Matthew's Place

MatthewsPlace.com is a program of the Matthew Shepard Foundation| Words by & for LGBTQ+ youth | #EraseHate | Want to submit? Email patrick@matthewshepard.org

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