Facebook, 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.
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.