As we venture into June and LGBTQ Pride Month, I suspect a lot of us will be snapping pics of people in red shirts, writing blogs about the various Pride parades we’ve watched, Instagramming parties and festivities celebrating our LGBTQ-ness and basically letting everyone know what we’re doing to celebrate the time of year when our community makes sure people know “we’re here, we’re queer,” (and, “where’s the beer?”).
I remember my first few Pride celebrations in the days before MyFace. We snapped pictures on our fancy cameras-that-were-only-cameras, saved our pennies to do as many parties as possible at Disney and PH, invited friends from all over to come and play in O-town for the weekend. Afterwards, we enjoyed the memories and the paper photos we made each June in Orlando, and shared those memories and pics only with those we wanted to share.
Now we have instant documentation of all that we do. It lives on (seemingly) forever. It’s pretty safe to say that the vast majority of Pride celebrators are connected to social media, and most likely in multiple fashions. What you are doing is somewhere being digitally archived for the world to see.
The proliferation of social media is (as my Boston friends say) “wicked awesome.” In a few clicks I can find out what my friends, family, co-workers and acquaintances are up to at any given moment. It also leads to some very different ways in which we as an LGBTQ community are documented—especially while the focus of our community this June tends to be about pride and what we as a group do to celebrate our LGBTQ-ness.
Like it or not, each one of us is a brand, and our online presence supports that brand, or the perception that people make about us from that data. Each individual “brand” feeds into the collective LBGTQ community brand (assuming you are out). We each are ambassadors for the LGBTQ brand. We’re constantly representing our awesome community and those around us. Every piece of data we share—from LinkedIn to Facebook to Instagram to Grindr—all contribute to our digital presence, and the perception people have of us as individuals and as a group. And yes, while you might have separate accounts that are for—ahem—separate purposes (LinkedIn for job stuff; Facebook for personal stuff), in 2015 this separation isn’t as clear and distinct as many of us would like to think. Anyone who’s seen Facebook’s “people you may know” has potentially seen this first hand: you look through the list only to realize one suggestion evokes your “how the HELL does Facebook know I know her?!?” response. The behind-the-scenes algorithms a
re keeping tabs on you and connecting your data across multiple platforms already.
If our individual online presence is potentially linked, and we as members of the LBGTQ community are part of the collective brand, it’s a good idea for each of us to watch out for one another to put ourselves and our community in the best digital light possible. So with this in mind (and in a small tribute to the recently retired David Letterman), here’s my Top 10 List of Things NOT To Do Online During Pride Month (or really any other month):
10. Make sure every picture of you posted is either when you are drunk or high or have a drink in your hand. Nothing says “celebrate!” like 30 pics of you shirtless and crossed-eyed.
9. Tag your friends in every pic, especially if they look bad, are in an embarrassing position, or not in their “right mind.” Nothing says “friendship” like showing your friends in a bad or unflattering light.
8. Make sure—when you and your boyfriend/girlfriend/significant other/husband/wife have a spat during that GayDays party—that you share every detail on Facebook. Everyone wants to know the intimate details of your personal relationship … especially this month.
7. Engage in the awesome game of “woe is me” and post cryptic things like “I can’t believe that happened!” or “I’m so sad this Pride: I need a hug”. Watch everyone come to your rescue for your own personal Pride pity party.
6. Freely and without thought interchange what’s appropriate content for one social media platform for another. Post your Grindr-appropriate pics on Facebook or LinkedIn for the world to see.
5. Post or blog about your Pride experiences so they make your grandmother blush with embarrassment. It’s important for everyone to see exactly what you do or did during the festivities to truly understand who you are.
4. Please Instagram as much skin as you can. Flesh is the new black.
3. Set your privacy settings to “Viewable to the World” for the month of June. Why limit your shenanigans to just one select group of trusted friends and confidants?
2. Double-check that you are linked to your boss, co-workers, and all family members before you post your Pride celebratory actions. Your work world and personal world should be one.
1. Absolutely do not have fun, don’t celebrate your pride in our community and how far we’ve come. Never document it in the most positive way possible for you and our community. No one likes to see positive images of LGBTQ people being human.
Go have an amazing time celebrating with friends and family this Pride season. Also, watch out for each other’s digital legacy and how it reflects on our community. Unlike that Pride party that ends at midnight, your digital Pride actions will live on for much, much longer.