So one topic I’m really interested in is about the LGBT community and the media. In recent years we see more and more people feeling comfortable enough to come out of the closet online, whether it is a private account or in groups on Facebook.
It is becoming more common to come out as gay or bi or transgender when online because we’re on social media and no one can hurt us. There might be some mean comments here and there from ignorant people, but ultimately, we are sharing this information with people we feel we can trust.
But is it a good thing? A study (source) conducted a survey and found 35 per cent of LGBT students who use social media receive threats online and a massive 42 per cent of LGBT youth have experienced cyber bullying. There will always be people who don’t understand or people who don’t want to understand. Even when we think we’re safe online and we become cyber bullied, we feel uncomfortable but we know that person can’t harm us through a computer. However, 27 per cent of LGBT youth don’t feel safe online. So what can we do to make the internet a safer environment? Somewhere we can express ourselves for who we are without feeling threatened.
Here are some tips to be safer online (source):
· Don’t give out your location or contact details to anyone you don’t know or trust.
· Keep your boundaries; don’t let anyone push you into coming out online or push you
into anything you are uncomfortable with.
· Trust your instincts: if you feel like you’re unsafe around someone online or in a group,
block that person and make sure they can’t contact you.
· Don’t give out any photos; these can circulate online.
· Delete friends who you know won’t be supportive of you.
· Join safe groups where you can talk about your gender or sexuality; there are plenty of groups on Facebook and lots of pages on Instagram to follow!
It’s always best to talk to the people you trust and who you know will support you. If you’re unsure of their views of the LGBT community, try bringing up a topic that will help you gage an idea of their opinion on it. This way you’ll know if they will support you in who you are.
If you need people to talk to but don’t feel safe discussing it with friends, there are plenty of groups you could join which have hundreds of discussions about sexuality and gender.
And if you would like to post LGBT content but don’t want certain family or friends to know or see it, there’s the option of choosing who sees what you post; this can be done on Facebook.
Remember to stay safe and talk to those you trust! And if you need to talk to anyone, these helplines can be very useful:
Switchboard LGBT + Helpline: 0300 330 0630
LGBT Foundation: 0345 330 303
By Vada Green (Norwich, UK)