Since Stonewall, the LGBT community has gone through a lot with the help of solidarity, awareness, and support from other groups. This has been beneficial overall to the community as it has become more inclusive to validate the existence of gender identities in the 21st century as well as provoke legal protection for those in marginalized sexual identities. As technology has become more prevalent alongside this growth of the LGBT community, I fear that the close “connectedness” of the community has deteriorated. In this article, I will aim to discuss how technology as a medium has simplified our interactions with community members, contrast how older LGBT generations interact with one another to younger generations, then discuss the connections we can begin to think about the two in relation to each other. I would to address now that I am not speaking on behalf of the whole LGBT community as nothing can be fully universal but I would aim to connect dots in ways that they were not connected beforehand to provoke further examination.
First and more most we should discuss technology and its implications with human interaction. Technology was created with the presupposition that it made human life easier whether it be medical advances, scientific discoveries possible through the lens of technology, and the most popular being easier outlets for human communication. We should focus on the last. Communication and interactions have become increasingly easier for communities given that technology allows for people to be just a single click away. We see this as a good thing. Contrary to popular belief, it has some potentially damaging qualities to it. When we use technology for a medium of communication, we face the possibilities of conversations lacking genuine expression like how face-to-face interactions are. People can pick and choose who they interact with which can marginalize voices and ideas of other members of the community. Another serious concern is that when one uses technology as a medium, one can portray themselves in a certain way and choose their words more carefully to send messages.
These immediate concerns with technology are not reason enough to justify the removal of such advances given that there are notable deeming qualities with technology as a medium such as easier access to communities which may not be in physical regions of the user. There is an increase in the exchange of ideas when we use technology. Since we can share thoughts, links, and content to mass audiences through social media, there is reason to believe that technology is a standard of communities now. Personally, outlets for ideas such as Reddit’s r/gay, r/ActualLesbians, and r/LGBT can allow for people to exchange experiences which can help others understand concepts they once did not before.
So, given how technology is becoming a standard in contemporary experiences of communities, how to LGBT youth and elders differ? Well first I should disclose once again that I am not speaking on behalf of every LGBT persons’ experiences with the community but rather a common phenomenon I have noticed. I think that LGBT youth have a generally more positive outlook towards the LGBT community given that they were raised in an age where inclusion and the absence of persecution were more common. This allowed for more freedom of expression and outlets for sexual identities to flourish into new validated concepts. But given the LGBT youth being raised in an age of technology, though the exchange of ideas has progressed significantly, there seems to be new issues occurring within the community such as the fetishizing of the white gay male (which subsequently also fortifies an idea of fetishizing minority identities), the increasing condemnation of masculinity and femininity in gender identities, and as I stated before, the increasing phenomenon of picking and choosing one’s audience.
Though I believe these are some issues with LGBT youth, I believe they overlap with issues with older LGBT communities as well. Older LGBT communities were raised in a time of persecution for their sexual identity which somehow caused a distinguishing solidarity for the LGBT community. We see evidence of this with Stonewall riots in 1969 as well as the AIDS epidemic. Additionally, since the older LGBT community was raised in a time without technology, if one wanted to be included in the LGBT community, one had to actively engage with the community even if it was in singular instances such as bath houses or truck stops. Someone could be closeted but not to the community as a whole. There should be focus on this last statement because LGBT youth does not have that concern, instead, since technology has allowed for easier access to communities, the LGBT youth could be a part of the community without having to have any solid or physical interaction with the community.
What does all this mean for the LGBT community as a whole? We should examine the relation between the points addressed previously. Since older LGBT communities had to actively engage in the community, they had an advantage in the sense that they genuinely know their community prior to the age of technology. This is not the case of LGBT youth, which one could claim, experience the sense of their community in a more superficial manner outside of the internet. Though I believe that the LGBT community has uses in their “inter-connectedness” with the community, the genuine connection that they might have would be weaker than the connections that older LGBT people experience.
In conclusion, there is something to be found in this article that reflects the experiences one has with their community even outside the scope of just the LGBT community. This may be an issue in other classes of people. I suggest that when one is thinking about this phenomenon, that one is charitable with how they view their identities in relation to how they view their respective communities.