As a queer teen in the early 2000s, social media was an absolute lifeline. So why does it now feel more like a living hell?
Growing up in a small town, my computer was my best friend - thanks to the people it connected me to.
I was the only gay in the village at a time when people couldn’t be open about who they were. Sites like LiveJournal and MySpace were the only places I could find anyone who was like me. I was lost, confused, and queer as Christmas in July.
Then In 2008 I joined Twitter and found a community of like-minded LGBTQIA+ people. They became some of my best ‘IRL’ friends, and in one case even a long-term partner.
But a space that once felt like a safe haven has become overrun by hate speech. In 2018 Twitter promised to ban transphobia. And yet anti-LGBTQI+ extremists still seem free to question my very right to exist on a daily basis.
The government seems intent on making transphobia legal through loopholes in proposed ‘online safety’ bills. All while hate-fuelled authors with millions of followers can figuratively get away with murder.
My safe haven has become a dystopian nightmare. But I can’t seem to delete my account. We seem to need social media to exist in modern society, however harmful it is to our health and wellbeing.
But it does feel like we’re approaching a tipping point.
Instagram and Facebook are owned by the same Zuckerbergian conglomerate. And now Twitter is about to be taken over by an off-brand Iron Man.
It seems that the LGBTQIA+ community has little choice but to roll over and accept the oncoming storm – or leave town for greener pastures.
Pundits tend to agree, with one reporter at MSNBC saying “I don’t think the safety and well-being of trans people is high on Musk’s list of priorities right now.”
So, should LGBTQIA+ folk build a new promised land, or stay and fight back against the oncoming storm?
Personally, I’m doing both. Now more than ever we need to stand together to be seen, heard, and visible online.
A few weeks ago I stood at a 3000-strong protest outside parliament to demand a full ‘conversion therapy’ ban. Trans people linked arms and shouted proudly about how we could not be ignored.
If Elon Musk and the Twitter TERFs think we’re going to give up our social media safe havens without a fight, they’ve got another thing coming.
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