A Safe Space and Digital Exclusion

The internet has no doubt become a medium for organizing in various communities around the world. From movements like the Arab Spring, which was often credited in the media as a movement that began online, to organizations like Anonymous, which organize, plan and conduct protests virtually, the internet has become an active and social place for communities to discuss issues that are important to them.

The LBGTQ community is no exception, and their presence on the internet is felt strongly. There are hundreds and hundreds of Trans blogs, queer blogs, gay blogs, lesbian blogs and bisexual blogs. These blogs vary from activist blogs, to gossips blogs to personal blogs. Because the presence of the LBGTQ community online reflects the presence of all online communities, in that it covers a wide variety of types of blogs.

In Elisabeth Friedman’s Article “The Reality of Virtual Reality: the Internet and Gender Equality Advocacy in Latin America”, she examines online advocacy in Latin America for gay and lesbian organizers and communities. And while she does find that the internet does seem to serve a fantastic purpose for some groups, pushing the socially constructed boundaries for some marginalized groups, and gives them a medium to express their voices and their struggles, the internet still does not reach all groups. The world wide web still seems to really only be providing a method for communication for the relatively privileged peoples of a country, and that the groups who were working in impoverished neighborhoods in Latin America were not reaching the people of these communities through emails.

And so, although the internet is providing a fantastic space for people of the LBGTQ community to reach out to each other and communicate across the globe, the internet is still working across class and race lines, providing an outlet for some, but not for others. And this “digital exclusion” will be hard to overcome. Internet access, website upkeep, and other online activities are expensive, and for people living in poverty, these costs simply are not realistic.

Still, as highlighted by Friedman in her article, there is a sense of empowerment that comes with women (and, in my mind by extension members of the LBGTQ community) learning to and using the internet. Being able to exist in a non-hierarchical community (which the internet can be) is an absolutely liberating experience for people who have been discriminated against and looked down upon their entire lives because of their race, class, gender and sexuality.

And this is why the internet is such an important new tool for LBGTQ communities. Because even if it is not able to reach everyone who needs it yet, for those who are lucky enough to have it, it is changing lives.

 

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