Coming Out on Social Media

By, Aaron Keen

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Safe spaces are important for those in the LGBT community. They provide a place to express your true self. A study from Pew Research Center shows that almost four in ten LGBT adults have been rejected by family and friends because of their sexual orientation. Social media can create an online space to find others who are like you. It can also give you the courage to take the first bold step in coming out.

According to Facebook, over 6 million Americans have come out on their platform since marriage equality became law. In my own coming out story, Facebook played a vital role. Growing up in rural Virginia, I felt I had no support as a gay man.  In 2016, I created my first video post on Facebook sharing my story with the world. After broadcasting my video, I was surprised by the overwhelming support I received from all over the United States and even a few from overseas. Other gay individuals saw my post and private messaged me sharing their own struggle. It was on this platform I began to find a community who understood me.

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Social media gave me an amazing opportunity. Through a friend I met online, I was added to a private Facebook group where I shared my story of coming out as gay and Christian. Through this group, I connected with an LGBT-friendly pastor. This connection inspired me to move to Los Angeles where I worked with Reignite Ministries for a year to promote LGBT equality in religious institutions.  My experience exemplifies how powerful social media can be in establishing a community and creating a support system, especially if you are from a rural area.

In an article from NBC, Youtuber Patrick Gothman, a gay man who makes videos discussing his sexual orientation and faith, states, “ The very last thing I thought was to share my sexuality online…[b]ut I’m totally supportive making better safe spaces online for people who don’t feel comfortable.”

Social media is changing the narrative around social issues. Sharing your own personal story is a very influential form of advocacy. When we are our authentic selves it encourages others to be who they are, too. Social media allowed me, Patrick and countless others to speak our truths. Don’t be afraid to share your truths online.

Aaron Keen