Unity, Strength and Solidarity by Ben Pechey
Ben Pechey is a freelance writer and content creator who uses their platform to raise awareness of LGBTQIA+ issues and looks fabulous whilst doing it! For issue 10 of the Procrastination Paper (Community), Ben wrote about the positive side of social media and how the LGBTQIA+ community creates a type of chosen family that for many people feels like home...
Community is one of those words that in our society has many meanings. For the LGBTQIA+ community, it is one of unity, strength and solidarity. For many of us, the kindred spirits we find within the community are the shaping forces we lacked when we were in our formative years. The bonds we make form lasting relationships based on joint and similar narratives that shape us. The community forms the basis of our chosen family. No matter how much we campaign for visibility and acceptance, the hostility we face as individuals at home is still a major issue, and one of the reasons there are so many LGBTQIA+ homeless young people. Thus the community means so much more than just the people that surround us. They are the true acceptance we may have never fully received at home.
Of course, this community may not have a physicality like other forms of community. For many people this exists online. One of the many positive aspects of social media is the ability to find like-minded people. For young queer people this is exactly what we do. We can support each other and highlight the amazing diversity we have in the community. We are also for the very first time in a unique position - to provide role models for the next generation.
As a vocal queer person with an open and positive narrative online I can reach people from all walks of life. I bring queer topics into my daily content to highlight the existence of people like myself, lend my voice to issues that require amplification and amplify the voices of those who are being spoken over.
Social media can be dangerous, it can be damaging. However, when harnessed by people like myself and so many other fantastic people, it can be a tool that educates, enlightens and entertains. The positive impact of social media is oft-overlooked, but for queer people it is so vital. It brings us together but also allows us to create change like no other generation, simply by bringing our collective thoughts together.
My audience is truly accepting, diverse and loving. I do all that I do for my 12-year-old self who had no one to look up to, no one to guide them through their feelings and thoughts. I want the next generation to feel as loved and accepted as my community makes me feel now. The power of modern technology makes this possible - we can do so much more – and when used positively it can allow us to be a force to be reckoned with.
With both online and real-life forms of the LGBTQIA+ community in existence and in force, we can be the accepting and diverse representation to cause actual change like never before. One such movement that has been very much fuelled by social media, and realised, in reality, is the voice of change. One such group that creates change and acceptance is 'Voices 4 London', the British outpost of the American LGBTQIA+ social group 'Voices 4'.
This is a group who actively campaign for the whole of the community, bringing intersections that represent the wonderful diversity of our community. Over the summer Voices 4 London marched at the end of London Pride, to show that Pride should be for all intersections, races, abilities. They show that all the letters in the LGBTQIA+ acronym are equally valid and important.
This is a true and heartwarming example of online activism coming to fruition in real life and making a real change. In seeking change, we are uniting our community against a society that is moving slower than it should be. In a world that supports media outlets that debate our very existence - community means so much more than solidarity, it means taking our fight to the street, it means standing up for what is right, and ensuring that all members are represented.
As with all communities, the LGBTQIA+ community is not perfect, there are issues of in-fighting and lack of true acceptance. Yet, I know in my heart that we are working to move things in the right direction and that one day soon we will all be able to live in a better world. All thanks to the strength of our community.
Instagram accounts owned by people doing great things for the LGBTQIA+ community, as recommended by Ben:
Ben has been nominated for an award at the National Diversity Awards - vote for them here.