Technology has evolved to be an integral part of the LGBTQ movement. The Internet has helped form supportive online communities for individuals to come together and share their experiences. Social media has also served as a platform to further the LGBTQ cause for equal rights.
“[Technology] has played an important role in connecting people and breaking down barriers,” said equal rights activist Kris Hermanns. “It has provided people living in rural or remote areas with an increased sense of community and support.”
Hermanns is a Harvard graduate with over 25 years of experience working within diverse organizations committed to social justice for LGBTQ people. Hermanns held leadership roles at the National Center for Lesbian Rights in San Francisco and The Rhode Island Foundation in Providence, through which Hermanns created Equity Action, a field-of-interest fund for LGBTQ concerns. Hermanns is currently executive director of the Pride Foundation, a regional community foundation based in Seattle with a deep local presence in the Northwest. Pride Foundation leverages support from donors and volunteers to support LGBTQ equality through grants, scholarships, fellowships and more.
LGBTQ individuals that are living in areas where it is unsafe to be out and open about their sexuality/gender identity can find solace and support in online forums, Facebook groups, and other digital safe havens.
The Internet has also been a vehicle for bringing a stronger awareness of the LGBTQ community. The increased visibility is crucial in helping propel the movement forward, Hermanns said.
“[Increased visibility for the LGBTQ community] has helped unify the message and vision of the movement,” Hermanns said. “Instead of looking at each state and local community in isolation, we are able to see the broader picture of what’s happening to LGBTQ people across the country and paint a much bigger picture of the progress we’ve made and the work that still lies ahead.”
While technology and digital media has helped to galvanize support for same sex marriage or boycotting Chick-fil-A, the journey for lived equality for LGBTQ people is far from being over. LGBTQ communities of color, for example, face some significant barriers. LGBTQ of color have higher unemployment, higher rates of poverty, and higher rates of homelessness.
The overlap of “race” and sexual orientation/gender identity intensifies the oppression that people—who identify with both marginalized groups—face, Hermanns explained.
“LGBTQ people of color face significant barriers due to the combination of structural racism and discrimination based on sexual orientation/gender identity,” Hermanns said.
In a national study, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force surveyed over 6,456 transgender and gender non-conforming people who identified as Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander during a six-month period about experiences of discrimination at home, in school, and in the workplace. The study found:
• 65 percent of the API respondents expressed facing harassment in school.
• 39 percent experienced physical assault.
• 19 percent were sexually assaulted causing 11 percent to leave school.
• 21 percent lost a job due to bias
• 41 percent were denied a job because of the way they gender identified.
• 21 percent reported being refused a home or apartment because of transgender bias.
Despite the potentially overwhelming feelings that may arise at the prospect of continuing the struggle, Hermanns offers some sagely advice: “Believe in yourself and your ability to impact change. It can sometimes feel daunting to think about how we get to our ultimate goal of full equality, but the small steps along the way are ultimately what will get us there.”
While posting a link doesn’t make you a revolutionary, it certainly is a step in the right direction.
For more from the Back to School, Back to Basics: Addressing the Digital Divide special, click here