There’s no denying the massive strides that LGBTQ+ creators have made in the world of online content.
And thanks to them, the internet continues to look a little different every year: more inclusive, more accepting, more hopeful.
To help us explore the real impacts of LGBTQ+ creators on visibility and online communities in 2023, we went live on Twitter and chatted with three LGBTQ+-identifying creators.
We were joined by comedian and TikTok darling, Scott Frenzel; travel content creator and OG YouTuber, Josh Rimer; as well as advocate and CEO, Sheri Johnson.
Here’s what we learned from them…
The Effect of Authentic Voices in Representation
Representation is a vital source of inspiration and validation for the LGBTQ+ community.
There are currently over 630 LGBTQ+ characters being portrayed across broadcast TV shows, which is 53 times higher than it was only 26 years ago.
There has clearly been a big leap forward for representation in recent years, though members of the LGBTQ+ community have pointed out exactly what these shows get right, and what they get wrong when portraying queer characters.
LGBTQ+ stories that are shaped – and ideally portrayed – by queer-identifying individuals often provide more accurate, diverse, and meaningful representation.
While representation is essential for those within the LGBTQ+ community, it can have a tangible impact outside of the community, too. Research has shown that non-LGBTQ+ individuals who are exposed to queer representation in the media are around 12% more accepting of the community than those who have not.
Although we’d prefer that number to be higher, it’s still an important signal that more representation can make a big impact in the real world.
While entertainment makes up a lot of this media, advertising is another important piece of the picture where representation is having a big impact beyond just the community itself:
- Progressive ads perform 47% more effectively.
- They also result in 25% more positive engagement.
- 45% of people under the age of 34 say they’re more likely to do repeat business with a company that is LGBTQ+–friendly.
Having LGBTQ+ individuals heavily involved in the storytelling process for any type of media is especially valuable for representing multi-dimensional queer characters who exist beyond stereotypes and portray a diverse mix of storylines.
We are taking more control of our narratives and stories. Telling our lives, our stories, our way!Sheri Johnson, CEO
We’re proud to host various streaming services that are dedicated to amplifying LGBTQ+ stories and content.
Sound like something you’d love to add to your streaming roster?
Check out some of our amazing customers in the article below!
7 Best LGBTQ+ Streaming Services in 2023
The Power of Uniting Online
The feeling that comes from connecting with like-minded people is a universal comfort, but this sense of community is even more essential for LGBTQ+ individuals.
As LGBTQ+ people, community has been essential to our survival, and it’s in our DNA.Scott Frenzel, Creator
Whether these individuals find themselves in unsupportive environments or simply have limited access to diverse queer communities offline, online LGBTQ+ communities are safe spaces for self-expression, exploration and education.
Users on the platform are being exposed to diverse representations of what it means to be a part of the queer community, helping them to explore their own identities and orientations.
A lot of the power in this content comes from breaking down stereotypes, and normalizing concepts that are underrepresented in traditional media.
While media across TV and streaming platforms is trying to keep up with the rising demand for queer content, many people within the community take it into their own hands to create and share their own LGBTQ+-focused content across platforms like YouTube.
The impact of this? 60% of queer-identifying individuals see positive change for the community on YouTube in a way that is lacking in traditional media.
The direct access to other members of the community that this provides can offer much needed support, direction, and reassurance to those who are struggling or feeling isolated.
I’ve found so many like-minded people through creating LGBTQ+ content, who have similar values & beliefs. It’s given me a great sense of community to have people from all over my country, and the world, who I can share my views, ideas, and life with over the years.Josh Rimer, Creator
While queer creators by no means have to automatically shoulder the responsibility of being role models to other members of the community, the public and proud presence of LGBTQ+ online figures can be inspiring for many.
The Important Role of Queer Communities
Community is a longstanding part of LGBTQ+ culture, both offline and online.
It’s an incredibly powerful tool that queer creators are able to use to protect themselves and their content against algorithms.
Instead of having to worry about certain words or topics being flagged by algorithms, communities empower LGBTQ+ creators to focus on telling their stories on their own terms.
Over at SVTV, they are working to be the table for LGBTQ content! No algorithms, no demonetizations, just our lives, our stories, our way. Most mainstream and social media platforms are failing at amplifying all of our voices.Sheri Johnson, CEO
SVTV is just one of the LGBTQ+-focused streaming services on our platform.
From sports to movies and series, to documentaries: SVTV’s mission is centered around authenticity and visibility, creating an online community where people can consume queer content.
By forming an online community around their content, LGBTQ+ creators and publishers are able to share content with likeminded people, while building a reliable source of income.
When it comes to growing your skills as a creator, communities are an amazing way to receive constructive feedback from members that are invested in and care about the content.
Invested community members are also the perfect audience for bonus content like behind-the-scenes videos, podcasts, and written posts.
It’s really key to any sort of sustainability. Community is what keeps people coming back, engaging & resonating with your message. Otherwise you almost have to start from scratch each time & only have a superficial & temporary connection with those who you reach.Josh Rimer, Creator
Challenges for LGBTQ+ Creators
Visibility is vital for all creators and their content.
The archnemesis of visibility? Algorithms. Especially for queer creators.
There have been claims that algorithms on massive content platforms systematically demonetize and limit the reach of queer content.
It would be nice if we could move toward a more human over AI sort of moderation process. Tough to do with so many people creating content, but often the LGBTQ+ community seems to end up being targeted more than others by the algo robots.Josh Rimer, Creator
Like any other creators, visibility and monetization are integral for LGBTQ+ creators who are trying to grow their audience and reliably make money from their content.
According to publishers, a whopping 73% of positive or neutral LGBTQ+ online news
is incorrectly flagged by brand safety blocklists, leading them to miss out on essential ad revenue.
Content moderation is a huge issue for not only our community but many marginalized groups. For example, a lot of moderator algorithms can’t deciphere the difference between a trans woman living her life and someone participating in a fetish, and those nuances silence voices when trans content gets taken down.Scott Frenzel, Creator
While platforms are denying that these flaws in their algorthims and review processes exist, there are far too many anecdotes from queer creators to ignore.
Beyond suppressed visibility and monetization, LGBTQ+ people are also dealing with harassment, bullying, and hate across social media.
64% of social media users within the community reported to have experienced this – a much higher percentage than those outside of the community.
GLAAD has said that platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok need to prioritize better protection of LGBTQ+ users throughout their community guidelines. Biased content moderation and algorithms has to be addressed, and there needs to be an increase in LGBTQ+ hiring, leadership and inclusion in these companies.
The obvious bottom line is that a lot needs to change in order to fairly support and amplify queer content.
Until these necessary steps are taken, LGBTQ+ creators are finding ways around these issues by doing what they do best: creating communities, and creating change.
We hope we’ve shared a small insight into the impact of LGBTQ+ creators and their content, as well as the representation that they spearhead, and the communities that they inspire.
We’d like to say a big thank you to the creators who took the time to chat with us and share their experiences and perspectives.
If you’d like to learn more about how the LGBTQ+ content space has changed in recent years, check out the article below!