Is Social Media A Safe Space For Queer Youth?

    Does the internet help or hurt?

    by · June 30, 2017

    Illustration by Jihyang Lim

    The rise of social media over the past few years has provided more people than ever before with overnight celebrity. Fame is the name of the game, and going viral is anyone’s golden ticket to the top. These platforms have become the digital middleman in helping many achieve elevated status, not only by blurring the lines between what it means to be famous IRL versus URL but also by giving platforms to people in underserved communities who remain unrepresented in mainstream media.

    But attaining fame through the internet still means subjecting oneself to the same, or even more, scrutiny traditional celebrities face; this is especially true for those who are queer, trans, people of color—anyone who doesn’t fit into a white/cis/hetero mold. Dealing with cyberbullying and cyberstalking can often be heightened for minorities with a platform.

    Still, the internet essentially makes up for Hollywood’s representational shortcomings, by allowing minority groups the platform to express and represent themselves on their own terms. And to go viral as a person part of an underserved community gives an individual a chance to use their platform to provide visibility and safe spaces for their communities.

    “When we see queer people with visibility, we see queer youth with more role models and with more references to discover more about who they are,” Insta-famous makeup artist Spencer Claus tells me in an email. “The rise of queer people in social media has been fantastically helpful in giving queer youth a safe space to be themselves.”

    So, who better to enlist to discuss safe spaces across the ~interwebz~ than some of the biggest LGBTQ stars of this generation?!

    Internet stars like model-actress-YouTube personality Gigi Gorgeous, makeup artist Bretman Rock, reality star Jazz Jennings, makeup artist Spencer Claus, and YouTube personality Brendan Jordan are just some members of the LGBTQIA+ community that use their social media fame to provide these safe spaces for queer youth, while balancing the responsibility of fame with their personal lives and experiences as young queer people.

    Click through our gallery below to read about their personal experiences after going viral, their thoughts on queer representation in media, and how they found and provide safe spaces for queer youth on social media.

    Tags: culture, pride
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    Last updated: 2017-06-30T11:45:18-04:00
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