Pride month: Four ways modern technology has supported the LGBTQ+ community
Updated: Jun 21
Beyond helping us work from home and letting us share memes, modern technology has literally changed the world in recent decades. People across the planet have used new tech to support progressive causes and connect with marginalised groups. Read up about the Arab Spring and the #MeToo movement and you'll quickly see just how crucial social media was to their success.
While LGBTQ+ acceptance has been growing steadily since the Stonewall rebellion in 1969, modern technology has helped further the cause. To celebrate Pride month 2022, we’re looking at some key examples of the rainbow flag being hoisted higher thanks to technological innovations.
Extending the community
For a long time, living openly as an LGBTQ+ person was a luxury only afforded to those living in cosmopolitan and urban areas. Cruel and dated jokes about ‘the only gay in the village’ were, and sometimes still are, a harsh and lonely reality for many people living in areas without a visible LGBTQ+ community.
Thanks to forums and apps, LGBTQ+ people are now able to find understanding and connection in a vast online community. This goes further than simply giving rural-living LGBTQ+ people a chance to celebrate their sexuality or identity online. Technology has helped promote and even kickstart LGBTQ+ communities in the British countryside.
In 2016 the small town of Midsomer Norton hosted one of Somerset’s first ever Pride festivals – an achievement that simply couldn’t have come to fruition without the internet.
Private, safe spaces
LGBTQ+ friendly bars and restaurants have been around for decades, often proudly flying the rainbow flag from the façade as a signal to those outside. Of course, this hasn’t stopped patrons being hassled or abused outside the premises. Even more serious and deadly attacks such as shootings and bombings have occasionally been carried out against gay-friendly businesses by individuals or groups.
Technology and the internet have afforded LGBTQ+ people a far more secure space, allowing people to connect in the digital world and even maintain anonymity if they wish. Forums, dating apps and news sites specifically catering to the LGBTQ+ crowd have all been made possible thanks to technology and the internet.
Word spreads fast
The concept of ‘cancel culture’ has been much maligned in recent years, reeling from accusations of over-usage and ‘witch hunt’ comparisons. However the basic premise remains true, and incredibly useful. In the past powerful people could use their connections and influence to bury news of their poor behaviour. Racist, homophobic and even sexually-criminal behaviour could be covered up with ease if a few key voices were silenced.
Thanks to Twitter and other communication tools, people are free to call out homophobic language or exclusionary practices wherever they see it. While the debate about ‘trial by public opinion’ is ongoing, the most important aspect of the practice is clear – a voice and empowerment have been given to a group who had neither before.
Representation in EVERY format
Visibility of marginalised groups is an important step towards acceptance by wider society. While we champion gay and trans media personalities, you only need to watch a few minutes of TV adverts to see how the image of the ‘traditional’ family structure as a man, a woman and a few kids is deeply ingrained.
This was until 2015, when Apple took the progressive step of adding a more inclusive range to its emoji bank. Suddenly iPhone users could post emojis featuring same sex couples and families with two mums or two dads. This drew controversy from some, including the Russian government who investigated Apple under the banner of the country’s so-called ‘gay propaganda’ law. Despite these challenges the message was out, and a small-but-mighty victory was won. LGBTQ+ people had become better represented in the tech sphere.