When people think of social media, they usually think of personal accounts used to share photos of things that would otherwise be insignificant, such as a colorful sunset or an interesting-looking flower seen on a morning walk through the park. There’s also the fandom side of social media, where people post pictures of their favorite celebrities or screenshots from movies they enjoy. However, there is a side to social media that often gets overlooked: LGBTQ+ safe space accounts. These safe space accounts are usually run by activists trying to promote positivity for the community as well as provide a resource for people to explore their identity semi-anonymously.
The reason it’s semi-anonymous rather than fully is because maintaining a social media profile means a name must also be attached. However, some people use a creative tagline or an online pseudonym as their display name, making it harder for people they know in real life to find their profile. Oftentimes, people seeking out online resources related to LGBTQ+ identity don’t want their families or even close friends to know they’re interacting with such content, especially if they aren’t ready to be open about the subject in real life.
The other workaround that a lot of people use, especially if they have a relatively common name, is to only use their first name for their display name. That way, if they set their profile picture to something that isn’t their face, the person running the safe space account they are following will not know their follower’s true identity. Taking any of these routes can easily make the person seeking out resources feel a bit safer, as their social media interactions would only be linked to their account rather than their full name.
Instagram is the main platform for these safe space accounts. Although Instagram carries a not-so-small reputation for being detrimental to the mental health of young people, the LGBTQ+ activism side is actually quite helpful. All these accounts are made by members of the community, so all the information they provide is factual and free of bias. This is a huge advantage to those questioning whether or not they are LGBTQ+, because negativity and misinformation targeted toward the community is a major factor in why those questioning may suppress their identity.
One of the most well-known safe space accounts is @thelgbtqiapride.
Their goal is to post messages of positivity for those who need it, as well as make it clear that they support all identities. That statement is very important, as many people don’t realize that the LGBTQ+ acronym covers more identities than just the ones symbolized by the letters. There are hundreds of different nonbinary identities that often get overlooked due to their relative rarity. This account does an especially good job of being inclusive of lesser-known identity labels.
As for their messages of positivity, they post images with captions such as “go where you are celebrated” and “love knows no gender.” This account also provides informational graphics that clear up several questions for those exploring their identity. Some examples of this include explaining bisexuality as an umbrella term that covers anyone attracted to more than one gender and explaining why it is essential to respect a transgender person’s chosen name and pronouns.
Going off that point, another safe space account worth checking out is @transmalepride,
also on Instagram. As the name suggests, this account is primarily for trans men and trans masculine nonbinary people. This page provides resources that help trans men while also offering resources that help educate the community. Two of the most recent posts on this page are lists of things that cisgender people need to know in order to be respectful toward transgender people. This includes — but is not limited to — making an active effort to respect one’s name and pronouns as well as a bunch of commonly used comments that may not seem disrespectful but actually are. Another post on this account offers advice on how to come out as transgender, which can be very useful for those who are not good at starting serious discussions.
In terms of LGBTQ+ representation on social media, safe space accounts are just the start of it. There are also many influencers on Instagram who
are part of the community and use their platform to spread positivity. Two notable ones are Char Ellesse
and Damian Alexander. These individuals use the platform not just to spread positivity but to uplift other LGBTQ+ voices and take a stand against outdated gender norms. Char Ellesse’s account is dedicated to makeup inspiration, but she also runs a second page called “Girls Will Be Boys,” which is for nonbinary positivity. Damian Alexander is an artist, but they also spread the message that it is okay to be fully open about one’s identity. That is something a lot of LGBTQ+ people need to hear, whether or not they are fully out or just starting to question which labels feel right.
Following accounts like these, whether it be safe spaces or influencers, gives a voice to a massively underrepresented community. LGBTQ+ individuals do not have the representation in popular media that they deserve, which is why so many people have questions about topics such as exploring identity. The best way to get correct information, and to ensure people in the community get the attention they deserve, is to uplift their voices. One like or follow can make a huge difference.