To put it simply, 2023 has been a harrowing year for LGBTQ+ communities all over the world, from the expansion of Russia’s anti-LGBTQ content laws to the surge of anti-transgender legislation across the United States. Online, LGBTQ+ people, communities, organizations, and their allies are using social media to share news, resources, and updates on those threats, but they are also using those platforms to share stories of progress and resistance.
We used our Meltwater social listening and analytics platform to find the more hopeful stories of LGBTQ+ resistance that had the biggest impacts on social media. The following stories (from 2023 so far) achieved high social echo scores, which show the number of times the article was posted to, shared, or engaged with on Facebook and Twitter. With them, social media users around the globe are attempting to spread some hope. Because, in the words of the late politician and gay activist Harvey Milk, “The only thing [young gay people] have to look forward to is hope. And you have to give them hope!”
Ryan Murphy Honors LGBTQ Actors in Golden Globes Speech
Ryan Murphy honored LGBTQ actors in his Golden Globes speech on Tuesday night, saying “My mission was to take the invisible, the unloved, and make them the heroes I longed to see but never did in pop culture.” https://t.co/28yx6O2hEB pic.twitter.com/P96mAu5uJi— CNN (@CNN) January 11, 2023
- Reach: 142M
- Social Echo: 781K
This January blog post from CNN made a huge splash across social media, highlighting just how eager users were to share the news of a prominent gay figure in entertainment honoring his peers. When producer Ryan Murphy accepted the 2023 Carol Burnett Award at the Golden Globes, he highlighted the contributions of actors Billy Porter, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, Niecy Nash-Betts, Matt Bomer, and Jeremy Pope to LGBTQ+ representation in pop culture. He also offered them up as examples of progress, stating:
When I was a young person at home in the '70s watching The Carol Burnett Show, I never ever saw a person like me getting an award or even being a character on a TV show. It's hard being an LGBTQ kid in America, in fact all over the world then and now. And I have one word for you: Florida. You are often told you will never become anything, you have to hide your light to survive. But for those kids watching tonight, I offer up M.J. and Billy and Niecy and Matt and Jeremy as examples of possibility. There is a way forward. Use them as your North Stars.
Transgender Day of Visibility: Minister Luan | Déclaration du ministre sur la Journée de la visibilité trans
- Reach: 5.67M
- Social Echo: 193K
Governmental press releases aren’t normally popular on social media, but this one posted to the Government of Alberta’s blog on March 31 stands apart. Social media users spread Minister of Culture Jason Luan’s statement recognizing transgender, nonbinary, and two-spirit Albertans for Transgender Day of Visibility far and wide.
43-Year-Old Used Her Life Savings to Open a Bar that Only Plays Women’s Sports—It Brought in Almost $1 million in 8 months
🗣️ “I would love to have as many people experience the feeling people experience when they walk through these doors” - Jenny Nguyen, founder and owner of #TheSportsBra in Portland, Oregon— Sports Media LGBT+ (@SportsMediaLGBT) April 30, 2023
✍️ @tjhuddle, @CNBCMakeIt #LesbianVisibilityWeek #LVW23 #sportshttps://t.co/Y2mAdUg8Gj
- Reach: 57.5M
- Social Echo: 133K
Who knew bargoers were so hungry for a place to gather around women’s sports? Jenny Nguyen, a lesbian business owner from Portland, OR, that’s who! This CNBC story reporting on the success of Nguyen’s bar The Sports Bra — which only shows women’s sports on its TVs — was a much-shared, feel-good story in April. While the article focuses on Nguyen’s business, it also mentions the part her identity played in the ideation process:
Nguyen, who came out as a lesbian at age 17, says she doesn’t always feel welcome at most traditional sports bars. The Sports Bra could help her, and anyone else who’d rarely felt accepted in other sports establishments, feel like she belonged. “I thought about, if we can even get one kid in here and have them feel like they belong in sports, it’d be worth it,” she says.
Kelsea Ballerini and CMT Music Awards Drag Queens Explain Message Behind Performance (Exclusive)
While lawmakers across the country introduce legislation that would ban drag performances, we are grateful to see @KelseaBallerini celebrate and embrace drag artists during the @CMT Music Awards.— The Trevor Project (@TrevorProject) April 3, 2023
Drag has been, and will always be about community 🧡https://t.co/a5c6Wk83eg
- Reach: 8.12M
- Social Echo: 81K
This year, legislators in the U.S. state of Tennessee have passed multiple anti-LGBTQ+ laws, including a bill heavily restricting drag show performances. This has sparked many protests and demonstrations — one of which saw country artist Kelsea Ballerini highlighting drag queens during her performance at the 2023 CMT Music Awards. Entertainment news outlet ET interviewed the featured drag queens — Kennedy Davenport, Manila Luzon, Jan Sport, and Oliva Lux — to get their takes on that performance’s impact. Luzon told ET:
Just like all these amazing country music artists, we drag queens are also artists. And we deserve a space to be ourselves, express ourselves, and create something wonderful for everyone to enjoy.
Charlize Theron Warns She'll 'F--- Anybody Up' Who Comes for Drag Queens: 'We're in Your Corner'
Charlize Theron Warns She'll 'F--- Anybody Up' Who Comes for Drag Queens: 'We're in Your Corner' https://t.co/DZRk0x3cSq— People (@people) May 10, 2023
- Reach: 53.7M
- Social Echo: 46K
We love you, queens. We're in your corner and we've got you, and I will f--- anybody up who's trying to f--- with anything with you guys… There are so many things that are hurting and, really, killing our kids, and we all know what I'm talking about right now and it ain't no drag queen — because if you've ever seen a drag queen lip-sync for her life, it only makes you happier, it only makes you love more, it makes you a better person.
This article, like the others on this list, was shared by people celebrating the news, as well as those with hateful intentions. However, its popularity shows just how much impact mainstream stars can have when they make it a point to support LGBTQ+ communities.
These stories have offered glimmers of hope for progress across social media, but, sadly, anti-LGBTQ+ articles by far-right extremist outlets like The Daily Wire are also some of the most shared on social media. As GLAAD has noted, anti-LGBTQ efforts from white supremacists and religious extremists have been sharply rising over the past year.
Sharing stories of LGBTQ+ joy and resistance is one small way that supportive internet users push back against the onslaught of hate. Along with protesting for, donating to, and voting for pro-LGBTQ+ movements, next time you see a story that gives you hope, consider taking a moment to share the good news. You never know who might need to see it.