Words Matter: Influencers Provide Subtle, Yet Impactful, Support For The LGBTQ+ Community
June is PRIDE month. As part of the month’s observances and beyond, it is important to raise awareness of each person’s journey toward identity and how it can create inclusiveness and support. What better place for social acceptance than through social platforms? Because social platforms are a natural way to address social issues, influencers are easily accessible key contributors to creating more inclusive conversations.
Although it seems simple, using personal pronouns in communications and interactions is a fundamental way influencers are currently and consistently showing support, as it is in the community-at-large. After all, influencers are a mirror to the followers who embrace them.
Using a person’s personal pronouns, and doing so correctly, can be one of the most basic ways to make someone feel safe and accepted in a great number of spaces. As influencers create authentic conversations with their followers, they also provide a safe space for conversation and guide those who aren’t aware of the importance of a pronoun.
Pronoun usage is taught in early grade school. As our language develops, these words are how people refer to each other, and it’s one of the main ways of identifying people besides using their names. But assumptions can often be made about a person’s appearance that is not always accurate.
Why Pronoun Usage Is Important
Research conducted last year by The Trevor Project shows that respecting pronouns is integral to creating a supportive environment for LGBTQ+ youth. One in four LGBTQ+ youth use pronouns or pronoun combinations that fall outside standard gender identification based on binary construction of gender.
With transgender individuals, the use of personal pronouns is not only a sign of respect, but it also validates their way of identifying and the journey they have taken to be who they are today. By normalizing the use of a person’s personal pronouns, one is not only making it a more common practice, but it also gives those in the LGBTQ+ community a space in which to thrive, where their identity is validated and respected.
In a recent article in Every Queer, Meg Ten Eyke explains, “More than half of LGBT young people report having one or more close friends they met online that they’ve never met in person – that’s compared to only 19% of non-LGBT young people so we know it’s not just a generational trend.”
These online connections are predominately from social platforms, and influencers are always at the center of moments that create opportunities to become allies and address issues like pronouns. Allies who ask about and use personal pronouns can make the practice more habitual for many of us, and it makes space for persons who are often excluded.
Those who are interested in showing support as allies can introduce themselves by stating their pronouns. This is the simplest way to show acceptance and support. They can also place their pronouns in email signatures or social media profiles and never utter a word. But even that small effort can speak volumes.
And to be clear, pronoun debates are not new. For example, it took years for academia to reconcile the universal “he/him” for more inclusive pronouns like “he/she,” “him/her,” or “one” in research writing. It uprooted the entire style manual industry in the 1980s and 1990s, and there was considerable debate over the changes academics had to make to be more inclusive. Now there are more inclusive rules with the use of “they” as a universal. The more we all use these standards, the less likely it becomes a debate. This is no different for social settings and, in most cases, is more impactful because it makes it mainstream.
Today, we are experiencing another step in pronoun usage, and it is the natural next step with the same kinds of debates. There will always be a few outliers who debate the use of pronouns and combat inclusiveness, but the overwhelming majority support these subtle yet significant changes. Influencers can be a primary catalyst for this change.