It was a week bookended with violence, on the Internet as much as in the news. The tragic murder of Labour MP Jo Cox in West Yorkshire on Thursday reverberated around social media in a way that British politics rarely does, in large part because events in the USwhich is a clumsily euphemistic way of saying “the the mass shooting that killed 49 people at an Orlando gay nightclub last weekend“have left us so sensitive to violence and horror. That attack, as much a hate crime against the LGBTQ community as it was a terrorist action, prompted multiple responses both online and offline. Yes, this week on the Internet was, like everywhere else, dominated by the aftermath of that nightmarish attack.
Break the Internet and Rebuild a Better One
What Happened: In the wake of the Pulse shooting, LGBTQ people on Twitter made themselves visible in a show of solidarity.
Where It Blew Up: Twitter
What Really Happened: Within hours of the attack in Orlando, as details were still emerging, it was clear that there was a homophobic element to what had happened. As the discussion surrounding Omar Mateen’s motives stirred, a sideshoot of the conversation turned to the simple, horrifying fact that for the LGBTQ community, simply existing can be a political statementoffensive to some with closed minds, but also inspirational to others who lack any role models.
From that beginning came the Twitter trend #GaysBreakTheInternet, the purpose of which was simple: members of the LGBTQ community posting selfies and proving that they exist, and that they matter.
Underscoring the bravery of the movement, there was a wonderfully defiant aspect to some of the tweets, too:
The Takeaway: Actually, we’re not quite finished yet…
What Happened: A second self-identification trend launched on Twitter, with a slightly different focus: introducing the person posting, and showing the wide, varied spectrum of those who are queer and proud.
Where It Blew Up: Twitter
What Really Happened: While #GaysBreakTheInternet was still running, writer and performer Dylan Marron (You might know him as Welcome to Night Vale’s Carlos) posted a tweet that took an alternate view of visibility as statement:
Arguably less about posting photographs of yourself looking fierce and/or fabulous, #queerselflove quickly went viral as those taking part simply told stories of who they were, accompanied with images or not, building a world in which they were represented, visible, and acknowledged, demonstrating that there’s not just one queer story, but a world of them:
Something that was especially beautiful about this hashtag was the number of messages like this:
The Takeaway: The tweets shared from the two hashtags above are just samplings; there are many, many more to be found. There’s a bravery displayed by those taking part in either one, because as the Pulse shooting and the aftermath has shown, this is not a society that is totally comfortable with LGBTQ stories yet, and just being yourself can end up being a dangerous thing to do. If there’s any upside from what’s happened in the last week, it might be watching the kindness and strength of people like those posting above.
Asked and Answered
What Happened: Donald Trump wanted to “ask the gays” about something. “The gays” made sure their answer was heard.
Where It Blew Up: Twitter, media reports
What Really Happened: Here’s another reason why it’s important for LGBTQ people to speak up: if you don’t, others will say things on your behalf. Like, for example, presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, who this week said the following at a campaign appearance: “For the gays out thereask the gays and ask the peopleask the gays what they think and what they do in, not only Saudi Arabia, in many of these countries, with the gay community, just ask, and then you tell mewhos your friend, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton?”
Yes. Let’s “ask the gays,” shall we?
I don’t know, Donald. Seems to me like asking the gays just led to you getting publicly humiliated, to the media’s delight. (Not that Trump has done anything to upset the media recently; oh, wait.) But you know best, surely.
The Takeaway: Hillary Clinton’s social media team said it best.
The Room Where It Happens
What Happened: Hands up, anyone who ever thought we would see the live-tweeting of a filibuster. Well, funny story…
Where It Blew Up: Twitter
What Really Happened: Following the Pulse shooting, the gun control debate started back up—with a slight difference. This time around, it seemed, Senate Democrats were going to try and do something about the political gridlock surrounding the issue, with Connecticut’s Chris Murphy launching into a filibuster Wednesday to prompt a vote on the issue:
At first, there was general, somewhat cautious support for what he was doinga sense that, yes, it was a good thing but would it really matter?
Others, however, saw it as a welcome first step towards sanity:
As the filibuster kept going, however, people’s attitude towards it on social media started to change:
Of course, not everyone was thrilled:
But everyone else?
Actually, as Slate reported, Murphy was actually allowed to take bathroom breaks. But even Batman has to pee. And, anyway, others had possible solutions to that problem:
As the filibuster continued into the night, Twitter got more and more excited about what was happening.
It finally ended after more than 14 hours.
The mission, it seemed, had been successful, with Murphy winning promises for votes on two measures, but as he shared on Twitter, that wasn’t the end of the issue:
The Takeaway: Democracy wins! Well, kind of. The next day, you might have been forgiven for thinking the opposite was true:
Every now and again, this really does feel like the darkest timeline.
Trouble, Trouble, Trouble
What Happened: Taylor Swift might have a new boyfriend. But he’s already the Internet’s boyfriend. What is going on here?
Where It Blew Up: Twitter, media think pieces
What Really Happened: Let’s talk about something else to end on. Something more positive, more life-affirming. Like, say, the start of a new relationship as captured via telephoto lens and revealed via a tabloid tweet:
No, really! There are “sensational pictures” that you can see for yourself! But is the Internet is interested?
It wasn’t just Twitter, however; actual media outlets got just as obsessed, with particular attention paid to the response of Taylor’s ex. At least there wasn’t anything else actually important happening this week, right?
The Takeaway: The bar has been raised for Marvel-related puns: