by Camille Crittenden
Originally published: June 19, 2017
June is a month for celebrations: not only for weddings but also commemorations of advances in civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities. Just as technology has shaped countless aspects of social and public life, its influence on LGBT rights and relationships has also been substantial—for consumers and producers of social media, for the tech workforce, and for advocacy on LGBT policy issues at the state and national level.
A recent Gallup poll estimated 10 million American adults identify as LGBT. Although this represents less than 5 percent of the U.S. population, surveys by city indicate that tech hubs like San Francisco, Seattle and Atlanta boast LGBT populations 2-3 times the national average. Developments in technology and the societal integration of LGBT individuals have co-evolved, often for mutual benefit. Social media has changed public attitudes toward gay and lesbian figures and contributed to increasing acceptance over the last 15 years. YouTube and Facebook have enabled an entire genre of “coming out videos” that have served to embolden those uncertain about sharing their sexual orientation. Dating apps have been associated with more risky sexual behavior on the one hand, but in countries where homosexual activity is punishable by imprisonment or even death, these tools have provided a platform for LGBT men and women to discover one another and meet under safer circumstances than would be possible in public.