(NOTE: This was originally a Facebook post.)
I just did a quick check, and of my 509 friends on Facebook, a full 124 of them have used Facebook’s little profile picture tool to rainbow-ify themselves. A further 13 have some other form of rainbow-themed profile picture that I feel confident ascribing to recognition and support of LGBTQ+ pride and marriage equality.
That works out to 137 of 509, or 27% of my Facebook friends who are publicly displaying their support for full equality, regardless of sexual orientation. That‘s a huge percentage, even for an admittedly self-selected group of contacts, most of whom are highly likely to share my general beliefs. (And to be clear, I’m not at all claiming that those who haven’t changed their profile picture don’t support this cause; I’m not equating lack of rainbows to lack of support, just looking at those who have chosen to do this).
So, two immediate thoughts:
- I’ve got an awesome group of friends, both real and virtual.
- This matters. Support matters. For those who look at things like changing profile pictures as “slacktivism” (something which I’ll admit I’ve done in the past) — sure, there is more that could be done. Time that can be volunteered, money that can be donated, etc., and if anyone has the resources to contribute in that way, I encourage it. But first, not everyone has those resources; and second, even if it doesn’t seem like changing a social media profile picture is really doing anything, just that show of support can be meaningful. Heck, I’m a straight white male, and I’m impressed and happy about the number of my friends visibly showing support. Now imagine what it must mean to those who are actually personally impacted by discrimination and bigotry. Even small actions can have major impacts.