News & Politics

You Look Good In Red

redFacebook, Twitter and other spaces on the internet glowed red this week.  Many (many!) people swapped out their usual profile pictures for red equal signs (and a growing number of creative variations of the red-washed HRC logo) in support of marriage equality as the Supreme Court considered the constitutionality of DOMA and Prop 8.  Sometimes, it feels like queer voices are the only ones calling for equality.  But this week, at least in my feeds, was a good reminder that more and more allies are willing to be just as vocal (if not more so!) as we are.

For whatever criticisms there may be of armchair – or avatar – activism, I was very grateful so many people clicked that click that turned their avatar red. Am I expecting to see headlines that Scalia has reversed his dogged anti-equality stances and is unfriending everyone not boasting the red avatar?  Not unless I’m reading The Onion.  Will I one day talk to my children about the day Twitter turned red the way my parents’ generation refers to Stonewall?  Of course not.

But indeed, the tides are changing.  And while no one believes a short-lived sea of red avatars are about to sway Supreme Court justices directly, growing public awareness has played a major role in bringing marriage equality to the big stage this week.  Public polls released just before the arguments showed as high as 58% support for marriage equality – revealing a momentous shift over even just the last decade.  This decisive shift in public perception about same-sex marriage, and LGBT equality at large, is a testament to brave folks who, over the last fifty years, have taken all sorts of steps to make our community (and our struggles) visible.  And with the online community becoming an increasingly central part of our lives, it makes sense to bring those acts of visibility along.

So if you changed your profile picture – or ever made a public statement in support of LGBT equality – THANK you. (And if you haven’t yet and want to: they’ll show you how, at HRC’s Facebook page.)

It has been a hard week for me – I’ve been stressed and sad and haven’t been able to follow the cases and take in this historical moment as well as I would have liked.  So, watching this support pop up and continue to spread has really moved me and made me feel held up – beyond the struggle for marriage rights.  I took the liberty of applying all those tiny squares standing for love into other parts of my life; they helped comfort me as I grieved the loss of a dear family friend, and as I took on some frustrating elements of the day to day.  And they emphasized the way a unified chorus of voices can impact our world, from the big public picture to our intimate daily interactions.

[Cross-posted to West Philly Mama.]

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  1. Thank you for this, Sandra! I think the whole issue of internet activism is a fascinating one. I also think: why not every strategy at once, right? There are 1,000 paths to a just society. Some may be faster than others, but also, people get there from so many different places. Let a thousand flowers bloom, sez me. And the moral support, as you say above, is a very strong value in & of itself.

    It was only after reading your piece that I looked into the impact of the campaign, and wow. It’s viraler than I thought, but then again I am not a daily frequenter of FB (the horror!). HuffPo, Time, TheAtlanticWire, even The Guardian UK are commenting on it.

    Very interesting issue, and the more we all identify and communicate via social media, the more interesting it will become.

    Meanwhile, LesFam’s not immune. We swapped our FB avatar the other day, and now it looks like this:

  2. It seems so simple and yet the simple action all over my Facebook page makes me really happy. I was particularly touched when the wife of a friend changed her’s with a comment about how she wasn’t going to do so but did as a response to the unthinkable hatred she was seeing on her friends’ pages. This is someone who runs in circles that are not pro gay marriage. This is someone who likely had people de-friend her because of her action. Yet, she did it. I sat in my office with tears welling in my eyes because she decided to stand up for our rights. Because she stopped being silenced by the hatred in her community. Because she cared enough to say so.

  3. I love the LF version of the badge! I just read that Facebook’s stats estimate that 2.7 million switched avatars. That’s so amazing.

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