Dear TechAways readers,
This year, SEC Newgate EU has chosen to celebrate pride month with optimism. This is not to say that the challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community have magically disappeared. Hate violence and discrimination against the community remain prevalent, equal rights and societal acceptance still have a long way to go. The 2021 annual report by ILGA-Europe portrays a ‘staggering rise’ in anti- LGBTQ+ rhetoric and hate crimes. In Germany for instance, hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community increased 40% in 2020 – a trend seen across Europe. But progress is being made, enabled by tech and streaming platforms that ought to be celebrated.
Streaming giants are telling LGBTQ+ stories that are watched by millions around the world. Anyone else guilty of binge-watching ’Sex Education’, ‘Orange Is The New Black’, ‘Grace and Frankie’ or the new ’Sex and the City’ series ‘And Just like That’…? According to annual research by GLAAD, Netflix is top of the list when it comes to queer representation, with 155 LGBTQ characters in TV series for the 2021-2022 season. HBO Max comes second with 71 and Amazon and Hulu have 36 each.
In addition to greater inclusion and representation on mainstream streaming platforms, there are now also streaming services that have exclusive LGBTQ+ content like Dekkoo, Revry, and WOW Presents Plus. They offer something for everyone with no shortage of variety, from drama to sci-fi, reality shows, horror and comedies.
But why does this matter? Representation in entertainment portrays a more accurate picture of today’s society. It can also be a motivating force for greater cultural understanding by increasing awareness, challenging bias, stereotypes, and giving voice to a community which has so often been marginalised. It is also comforting for young people, particularly those who feel lonely and isolated for fear of coming out, to see themselves represented in all aspects of life. This shows them that they can live in a society where everyone is accepted and living life the way they choose.
With this optimist thought, we wish you a happy Pride month. And let us all remain hopeful for a more inclusive and accepting community – online and offline.
Invasion of privacy 🕵️️️ [Wired]
French philosopher Michel Foucault wrote extensively about the panopticon, noting that its ultimate design principle was for power to be visible, but unverifiable. With state surveillance reaching new heights in the era of omnipresent digital footprints, this concept is as relevant as ever. With 69 countries that continue to criminalise same-sex sexual activity, the LGBTQ+ community certainly takes the brunt of invasive law enforcement practices. WhatsApp chats, texts, and photos from confiscated phones – often obtained through threats and coercion – are all fair game in criminal cases. When an “I like you” message can be used as evidence in court, it is clear as day: anti-LGBTQ+ laws are not about criminalising actions but identities, subjugation rather than obedience.
No man is an island on Andrew Ahn’s Fire Island 🏝 [Vox]
Queer cinema is overwhelmingly… sad. Stories of social marginalisation, unrequited love and tragic deaths prevail thanks to the legacy of the motion picture industry’s 1930s self-censorship charter, the Hays code. Thankfully, Andrew Ahn’s Fire Island throws respectability out of the window, delivering a wholesome reflection on love and friendship that is not detached from the innate cynicism of the lived queer experience. Flamboyant, Pride and Prejudice-inspired, with an Asian American cast, the film centres on Bowen Yang of SNL fame and actor-writer-comedian Joel Kim Booster. The story is set off the coast of New York in a queer summer party enclave; enriched with references to LGBTQ+ community’s racial and class politics, it makes 105 minutes of runtime worth the viewer’s while.
The LGBTQ+ friendly bank 🏛️ [Wired]
Who said that customers are just numbers for banks? In the United States, a Neobank start-up launched a new banking service called Daylight. It offers the LGBTQ+ community a wide range of customised services: from debit cards with the name of your choice regardless of what your ID card says, to an app that rates companies based on their gender-inclusive toilets, and the causes CEOs support. Daylight features also facilitate LGBTQ+ community integration in day-to-day life. One might wonder about the profitability of such a business? It is estimated that the US LGBTQ+ community, about 32 million people, has a collective spending power of $1 trillion per year. Daylight therefore fills a niche market while providing services that are regularly declined by traditional banks, such as loans for hormone or fertility treatments.
Gender identity in the Metaverse of madness 🤖 [CoinTelegraph]
Sex assigned at birth does not always match with gender identity. The discrepancies between gender identity, expression and perception can cause a great deal of dysphoria and unease, making many genderqueer people turn to digital avatars to explore and validate their identity instead. Those virtual expressions, seemingly detached from real life, can ease the feeling of disconnection between the self and the physical body. While this is not a new concept – avatars have been a core feature of many video games to date – the Metaverse presents new opportunities for users to customise their virtual personas, thus facilitating the process of curating and consolidating one’s gender-affirming identity without negative real-life consequences, such as societal exclusion and marginalisation.
About this week’s editor: Alba Xhixha.
As PR Director at SEC Newgate EU, I appreciate how tech has transformed the communications landscape, creating immense opportunities to engage directly with online communities around the world. Our stellar comms team keeps evolving to stay ahead of the digital trends and personally I keep learning from the digital natives who breathe new life to our practice. My 6-year-old son also gives me some digital inspiration from time to time.
In case you haven’t had enough.
Anna Lytical is a TikTok star teaching coding in drag [WIRED]
LGBTQ Americans are looking for safe, affordable housing [Vox]
This Label’s New Collection Is Inspired by Its Designers’ Experience as Queer Palestinians [Vogue]
22 LGBTQ+ video games to play during June 2022 Pride Month [AVClub]
Elton John Is an LGBT-QR Code in This Pride Fundraising Campaign [MuseByClio]