The Internet’s Role in Gay Rights Activism

Organization, Awareness, and Information

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Not unlike President-Elect Barack Obama’s campaign for the Presidency, protestors fighting for gay rights are using the Internet as one of their biggest weapons in the battle for equality. More specifically, countless websites (and social network groups) have sprung up in support of gay rights. Sites like JoinTheImpact.com and MarriageEquality.org to name a couple.

According to Reuters, "By the evening jointheimpact.com was created, it was visited 10,000 times. By Sunday, there were 50,000 visits per hour and the computer running the site crashed. It has moved computers twice since in an effort to keep up."

Then there’s JoinTheImpact.WetPaint.com, where activists got together to organize protests (which took place this past Saturday) in ever state in the country. The site was used to find representatives to organize the protests in each location. I spoke with Chris Stapel, the person in charge of the protest in Lexington, KY after finding an email address at this site.

Join the Impact

"The jointheimpact page sprang up days after the passage of ballot measures in California, Florida and Arizona banning gay marriage and a measure in Arkansas banning adoption by all unmarried people," says Stapel. "By Sunday I’d read on several blogs about the jointheimpact call for a nationwide protest against California’s Proposition 8 the following weekend.  By Monday there was still not an organizer for a Lexington-based protest so I submitted my name as a contact.  By this time www.jointheimpact.com had grown so rapidly (and organically) that it outgrew its initial host and had to find a new home."

"I created a facebook event for the Lexington protest and invited folks I knew and within two and half days over 1,700 people had been invited to the event," Stapel told me. "Of course, after word started spreading about the event some things  actually had to be done to make it happen; I unexpectedly took on a de facto leadership role. I’ve used the internet to contact collaborating organizations and others have contacted me via email after finding my address the same way you did."

Join the Impact Facebook Event

I asked for Stapel’s thoughts on the role the Internet is playing in spreading awareness about gay rights. "In this case, I think the Internet is doing more to organize people than to actually raise awareness for LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, & Questioning) rights," Stapel says. "That is, most people who have learned about this event via Facebook, www.jointheimpact.com, or email forwards are already advocates for gay and lesbian people.  But it does serve as a powerful tool to organize those people in a way that hopefully translates into greater awareness of LGBTQ rights in real life."

"I should add, though, that many LGBTQ people use the Internet to learn about what it means to be gay and about the queer community before coming out of the closet," Stapel continued. "It also allows gay and lesbian people who feel isolated in their community to connect with other queer people.  Unfortunately the internet can also present misinformation to these folks and others."

Of course, just as with Obama’s campaign, embeddable, relevant online videos (such as the one below) also help spread the word.

Saturday’s protests have come and gone, and they have apparently gone well for participants. Caitlin Powell at Kentuckians for the Commonwealth writes:

I joined about 150 people of all ages and orientations that gathered in front of the government building in Lexington, braving the cold, wind, and rain.

Protesting in Lexington

Photo Credit: Chris Garris

Lots of drivers that passed the crowd honked in approval, and many people even rolled down their windows to shout out support and wave. It was really great to see such a large turn out despite the nasty weather, and it warmed my heart every time someone honked and gave us a big “thumbs up!”

A post from Saturday evening at JoinTheImpact.com says:

Today we have shown the world that we will not be victims anymore! Today, our community has risen and shown our opponents that we are MUCH MORE THAN 1 MILLION STRONG! We brought the world’s attention to the outrage that is Proposition 8. We brought the conversation of equality into the living rooms of America and around the world! Today, we took a gigantic step into the next Civil Rights Movement. We have brought the conversation to a national stage.

The national stage indeed. Not that other forms of media didn’t contribute to this, but the Internet was clearly a huge factor in the organization of these protests, and continues to serve as a platform for the continued discussion, organization, and awareness for the cause. The people responsible for these things are obviously passionate about their message, and know how to utilize the tools available to them to get that message across.

Businesses could take a page out of this book when it comes to using the Internet, social media, and networking to spread their own messages. I think the true business lesson here is that organization and being passionate about your message are two of your most important assets when it comes to marketing.

The Internet’s Role in Gay Rights Activism
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  • Guest

    The Keith Olberman clip is one of the best things (and valid points)  i’ve seen pertaining to the Prop 8 fiasco.

    • Chris Crum

      I would imagine that it’s been shared fairly frequently.

      • Guest

        I’m sure it has, I saw it last week on some random site.

  • Guest

    Here’s the fly in Oberman’s ointment:

    He quoted Omar Khayyám, a Shi’a Muslim, though an unfaithful (or liberal) Muslim — but a Muslim nonetheless. Like liberal Christians, who are usually more liberal than Christian, Khayyám was more liberal than Muslim. And that’s the likely appeal.

    Olberman confessed that along with Clarence Darrow Khayyám put words to his (Olberman’s) best and hightest vison:

    "So I be written in the Book of Love; I do not care about that Book above. Erase my name, or write it as you will, So I be written in the Book of Love." This is an attack on biblical Christianity.

    In other words, sex is more important than God. Marriage is aout children and families. Gay is about sex. Have you noticed that liberals are forever telling us that love and sex are not related — except in the case of homosexuality?

    That "Book above" is a reference to God, specifically to Revelation 21:27:  "But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life." And that is the point! Olberman’s perspective is completely blind to the reality of God. I don’t mean to pick on Keith, he’s got lots of company!

    The defining issue isn’t homosexuality or love. The defining issue is God. And regardless of what Olberman says that he may or may not believe in God, it is clear to believers that he doesn’t believe. It is impossible to frame the issue in  way that Olberman will be able to understand what’s at stake for Christians because his perspective is so removed from the common Christian perspective that it’s like speaking a foreign language. Olberman is not familiar with the language of faith.

    Christians can understand his perspective because Christians understand sin. We’ve been there. We are all sinners. But the traffic does not go the other direction.


  • http://www.kftc.org Guest

    Please credit Caitlin Powell with the quote you attribute to me just as it was in the blog entry you found it in.

    Please also credit Chris Garris for the picture.


                                      – Dave Newton

    • Chris Crum

      Hi Dave, I believe your name was attached to it when I posted, because I don’t know where else I would’ve gotten your name from to begin with. Perhaps I just made a mistake, and if so please accept my apologies (that goes for Caitlin Powell and Chris Garris as well). I figured the link would be sufficient on the pic, but I will make the changes you requested immediately.

  • Guest

    There are so many things that are disturbing about your clip. It would take forever to answer them all.  But the "take my name out of the book from above", says it all. Note to GOD: keep this clip to play for him if he gets there and doesn’t know why he can’t get in……….. 


  • Guest

    It’s one thing for a group of people who have self chosen to live a jaded or abnormal lifestyle, but when these ranting homosexuals want to be able to force their jaded and abnormal lifestyles on society and expect automatic acceptance it’s time to say ‘Enough!’. Then what’s even more discusting, immoral and frightening, women want to marry women and men want to marry men then adopt a poor vulnerable child who has no ability to say ‘No’, no choice in his/her future and would be subject to be ‘Forced’ into an abnormal lifestyle filled with confusion and dysfunction.

    Fact, men can’t birth children with men and women can’t birth a child with women! So what right do these people who have chosen to go off into some jaded sexual path have in forcing a young child into their lifestyle without any opportunity to grow up Normal?!
    Enough is Enough with this ‘Poor Pity Party’ whining from a group of people who have chosen to alienate themselves from society and go off on some sexual perversive and jaded lifestyle path! 

    The problem is, many government officials are too concerned about votes to voice this fact that almost all of them agree on. The U.S. of A. is a finished country from what it once stood for, morals, ethics and dececy of fair play have been thrown away for fear of votes.

    When will America ever wake up to reality. If homosexuals cannot naturally birth children, then they have NO RIGHT to adopt them!

    Instead of Whining, protesting and filing suits, they need to seek some help!

  • http://www.movetheearth.org shawn hyland

    His broken voice and pleas may move the emotions, and his "undefined" words of love and happiness might sound convincing, but neither of them change the facts. Prop 8 was not a vote on whether a gay individual can love another gay individual, and true love would make you happy despite if your family approves of the relationship and/or society. If complete acceptance by everyone, of everything your choose to do in life, is the measure of happiness, then the search for happiness is meaningless! As the saying goes "You can’t please all the people – all the time"

    It was a nice try to be emotional but the facts remain. Whatever an individual wants to do concerning a homosexual relationship in private, so be it. That is their moral choice. They must face the moral consequences and health risks that a gay lifestyle entails. However, when they want to force their private sex life into the public square, then they have to allow the public to voice their beliefs and convictions.

    Yes, Keith – the bible does say "do unto others as you would have them do unto you". If I was choosing an unhealthly lifestyle and trying to get legal rights to raise more children in this unhealthy lifestyle within my home, then I would want someone outside of my emotional situation to look at the facts and make a decision that would benefit society, not my own situation – for I am blinded by love. We have to stop being so selfish to think life is "all about me". Even though the vote does not affect my life, I still have to think of others and how it affects them. Not just the 3% of the population that is gay, but the 97% of others and the implications of how children are raised in a culture that accepts such risky sexual behavior. If I am gay, I can not just think "about me", but how does this affect others.

    Move the Earth.org

    • http://www.ferodynamics.com/ PJ Brunet

      They can add me to the "blacklist".  Free advertising to the sensible 97%  ;-)

  • Agata

    There is no other media to express your opinion in so openly and comfortable like internet, that’s why it’s so widely used by all minority social groups: whether they’re gays of just green fighters for eco-friendly sex toys. What could be easier than dropping some lines in you blog on an issue and wait a feed back?

    my hot space: http://www.edenfantasys.com/

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