article placeholder

Gay on Facebook: It’s complicated

Facebook and the LGBT rights movement

Credited with helping fuel uprisings in faraway places such as Egypt and Libya, Facebook is also revolutionizing the gay rights movement — and the overall LGBT experience — across the United States.

The social networking site was the primary tool used by grassroots organizers in numerous cities throughout the country as they planned protests in response to the passage of Prop 8, the gay marriage ban, in California in 2008. It has amplified the visibility of gay-affirming campaigns such as National Coming Out Day and the National Day of Silence, and provided broad exposure for new initiatives including the No H8 photo project and National Spirit Day, when people were encouraged to wear purple and infuse purple into their profile photo to express solidarity against anti-gay bullying.

But Facebook’s effect on LGBT lives has been far more personal than organizing and getting the word out about gay events. For LGBT adults, the site has dramatically altered the coming-out process —  either making it easier by replacing countless, emotionally wrought conversations with friends, co-workers and people from one’s past, or complicating the effort to remain closeted when every status update or photo you post is showered with flattering comments from people of the same sex.