“The power of the internet sits in the ability to connect people around the world with the click of a button. No longer are we alone in our personal fights.”
I am one of the (approximately) 190,000 people who have watched IO TILLET WRIGHT’S TED TALK ON YOUTUBE, one of the 5,469 people who have also “liked” the video. In the vast sea of the internet, these numbers create a natural community of people who have learned from iO’s words without ever making it to TEDWomen in 2013.
iO’s talk opened my mind to the idea of a spectrum, commonly known as the Kinsey scale, through artistic lenses. As a former 35mm black and white photographer, I was drawn in by the remarkable portraits that iO shared, curious about the stories that each person held.
Collectively, these images showcased a newfound community of people who had partook in the SELF EVIDENT TRUTHS project.
Upon finishing the video, I not only immediately shared it, thereby broadening the online community, but also had significant conversations with individuals, friends, colleagues, and mentors about the talk. Questions like,“Can you assign a percentage to how gay or straight you are?” floated through conversations offering just as much confusion as clarification that the video provided in the first place. As friends watched and shared, the online community grew. More people stripped themselves of the boxes of gay, straight, or bisexual and even more began to understand the importance of exchanging categories, binaries, and labels in favor of acceptance. Leveraging the ease of YouTube and social media today, the video and its message continued to spread, expanding the Self Evident Truths community.
It is with this same ease that the It Gets Better Project was founded on just a few years ago. The original “IT GETS BETTER” video by Dan Savage & Terry Miller led to the birth of a movement of uplifting YouTube videos for LGBTQ teens from the international community of supporters and allies. And in the same way that iO Tilley asked that we remove labels from our lives, the It Gets Better Project was one that also sought to remove those labels. The community is made up of almost every single stereotype you can imagine and, in fact, those stereotypes do not matter one bit. Scroll through the IT GETS BETTER YOUTUBE CHANNEL and you’ll soon realize that LGBTQ individuals and allies alike cannot be bucketed into any stereotype.
The power of the internet sits in the ability to connect people around the world with the click of a button. No longer are we alone in our personal fights. The recent UPRISING OF LOVE series on Google+ created a community around LGBTQ equality around the Olympics and beyond. Through the use of Google+ Hangouts On Air, the conversation brought together global musicians, athletes, actors, non-profit leaders, and students for conversations about the importance of global equality. The series delved into topics like LGBTQ representation in sports and the media and supporting the LGBTQ youth community. The THIRD HANGOUT OF THE SERIES, centered on LGBTQ equality in the media, featured Andrew Rannells of GIRLS, Michelle Garcia of The Advocate, and Janina Gavankar & Jennifer Beals of The L Word, among others. As fans watched the Hangout, messages of hope and thanks towards the celebrities emerged.
Hangouts On Air offer the immediate opportunity to connect with individuals around the world in meaningful ways face to face. The series not only created a community for the celebrities and activists to come together to voice their support for global equality, but also included interested fans. With each day, the community expanded to include more individuals confident that the quest for global LGBTQ equality was one worth fighting for.
We may be “neurologically hardwired to seek out people like ourselves” like iO says, but communities allow us to overcome this bias by bringing together seemingly disparate people over a common cause. Google+ furthers this cause by allowing these communities to virtually exist creating more connections among more people despite boundaries of time and space. For the LGBTQ community, this interconnectivity results in real world progress.
– A personal piece written for the launch of the It Gets Better Project’s #illustrations media campaign
Image courtesy of Self Evident Truths