It’s Pride Month, 2023! 🏳️🌈
And in 2023, it’s safe to say we’re well into the digital age. Technology has become a powerful tool for empowerment and change – something we’ve seen so much of in recent years. The LGBTQIA+ community in particular has embraced technology to overcome challenges, create support networks and fight for equality.
Despite the advancements in tech we’ve made, so much more needs to be done in terms of LGBTQIA+ advocacy. Still, in 2023, members of the community feel unsafe - and the feelings are not unfounded... With politicians actively working to silence and strip human rights away from members of the community in the US, and the rate of hate crimes against LGBTQIA+ people rising, we need to be advocating for the queer community more.
We have the tech at our disposal, so let’s look at how we can use it…
Mental Health and Support
Technology has created a plethora of resources for LGBTQIA+ people looking for mental health support, therapy or counselling. Online platforms and mobile apps have created safe spaces for people to find understanding and guidance.
For example, apps like “Talkspace” and “BetterHelp” offer accessible and confidential therapy services, where people can get help specifically for issues related to the struggles LGBTQIA+ people face, such as discovering their own sexuality, dealing with gender dysphoria, coping with or standing up against homophobia at home/in the workplace etc. These platforms connect users with licensed therapists that they can pick and choose to suit their individual needs.
If you know of anyone in the community who is struggling with any kind of mental health issues – related to their identity or not – you can recommend these platforms to get them the help they’re looking for.
Social Connections and Community Building
Social media platforms have played a crucial role in building connections among LGBTQIA+ individuals, especially those in remote or less accepting environments. Apps like "Tinder" and "HER" enable queer individuals to find like-minded friends or potential partners within their local communities.
Online forums and chat groups, such as "QueerTech.io" and "LGBTQIA+ in Tech" on Slack, facilitate networking, knowledge-sharing, and mentorship opportunities among LGBTQIA+ professionals in the technology sector.
Mainstream social media platforms like Twitter, TikTok and Instagram have given the community a platform to speak out and create awareness about the struggles and hate they face, showing people real, unfiltered human experiences that spark movements to advocate for positive change and acceptance. Campaigns like the "It Gets Better Project" have harnessed the power of video sharing to provide hope and support to LGBTQIA+ youth. Crowdfunding platforms like "Kickstarter" and "GoFundMe" have allowed individuals to finance and amplify their initiatives, ranging from local LGBTQIA+ community centres to nationwide awareness campaigns.
Anybody can get involved in advocating for change and speaking up for oppressed groups, whilst also using channels like Slack to advertise specifically to LGBTQIA+ people in need of jobs to create diverse workspaces.
Safety is a critical concern for many LGBTQIA+ individuals, especially those living in areas with high discrimination rates. (For more information about the Global Acceptance Index, check out this article)
Mobile apps such as "SafeTrek" and "Companion" have been developed to enhance personal safety by allowing users to share their location and alert emergency contacts in potentially dangerous situations. For example, if someone was harassing a transgender person in a bar or on the street, an alert can be raised before it escalated.
Other technology-driven services like "Legal Equalizer" provide information about legal rights and resources, making sure that LGBTQIA+ individuals are aware of their legal protections.
Gender-Inclusive Language and Accessibility
Technology has also played a role in promoting gender inclusivity and accessibility for LGBTQIA+ individuals. Tech companies, such as Apple, Google, and Microsoft, have introduced updates to their operating systems and software, offering users more diverse gender representation and inclusive language options.
These changes contribute to a more inclusive and respectful digital environment for all individuals, regardless of their gender identity or expression. It also creates an awareness in work environments of people’s pronouns and how they wish to be addressed.
As we celebrate Pride Month, it's essential to recognize the significant role that technology plays in empowering the LGBTQIA+ community.
From mental health support to social connections, activism, personal safety, and inclusivity, technology tools have provided resources and platforms that enable the community to thrive.
However, it's important to remember that not everyone has equal access to these resources. We need to keep pushing to bridge the digital divide and make sure that as many people as possible can benefit from these empowering technologies. By leveraging technology, we can create a more inclusive society in which we can stamp out hate, and everyone feels safe, supported, and celebrated for who they are.
At 5Values, we're striving to create an environment like this ourselves, with our Diversity & Inclusion Champion, Beth, giving training and creating campaigns to actively celebrate and advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community, amongst other minority groups.