In recent months, there has been a sharp increase in viral videos made by young people in the LGBT community. Ranging from uplifting to informative to heartbreaking, all of them have something to say about being an LGBT person in your teens or twenties right now.
Beginning with Panti's now famous speech at the Abbey Theatre earlier this year, 2014 has seen a much more visible LGBT presence on video hosting sites. With films like "Pride" out in cinemas at the moment and more television programmes featuring LGBT characters, there has definitely been some improvement in media for representation of these groups.
Yet some of the videos that have gone viral online might make you question how we're still at a point where people are threatened for their identity. The video below is a recent example of one that made waves because of its negative nature, showing a family's reaction when their son comes out.
The response of the family in this video was described as being “shameful” and “horrifying” by popular media outlets. Yet, in something as negative as this, there was an upside. A sea of coming out videos followed in support and a GoFundMe page was set up for people offering donations to help with the son's living expenses.
For young people who might have been deterred from coming out by the original video, the response shows us all that there's support in the LGBT community. It also inspired the following video by popular blogger Chris Thompson, looking at whether sexuality is a choice and questioning the use of religious arguments against people who don't identify as straight.
There have been several videos posted with the intention of being informative, particularly in explanations of sexualities that don't fit into the gay or straight binary.
This year has seen more people talking about bisexual erasure than before, especially with programmes like Orange Is the New Black on TV at the moment. Shows like this still seem to shy away from the word bisexual, instead going with terms like “ex-lesbian” or categorising the protagonist Piper Chapman as being a lesbian or being straight, depending on who she's currently with in the show. The internet is trying to tackle these outlooks and erasure of less represented sexualities with informative videos.
The first one featured below is a popular blogger explaining why being engaged to a man does not make him any less bisexual. This is an issue that numerous celebrities have had to deal with, including Angelina Jolie, Alan Cumming and recently True Blood's Anna Paquin when she was asked “are you a non-practicing bisexual?” by Larry King because of her marriage to co-star Stephen Moyer.
The erasure of sexual orientations is common for people who are assumed to be in heterosexual long-term relationships even though they are bisexual or pansexual, or where it is assumed that bisexuality is a stopping point on the way to coming out as gay. This video, which has received over a million views, is about the things bisexuals are tired of hearing.
These types of videos are important not only to educate but to reinforce those who identify in these categories. In this way, they are invaluable to members of the LGBT community in promoting knowledge of multiple sexual orientations and increasing visibility for these people in wider society.
Even though some people have uploaded some heartbreaking videos or have posted videos because they continually have to defend their identity, overall this new wave of exposure for LGBT people will hopefully continue to serve the greater purpose of educating those with a lack of awareness.
It will also serve as an extra information source for people who are already out or people who are questioning their sexual orientation and looking for guidance. It would be great to see videos like these helping encouraging students to join the LGBT society in their college or be more open about their sexuality. Even if they just help some people on their way to self-acceptance, then it seems like these very human stories with people allowing themselves to be vulnerable on screen could lead to good things.