Have you been on any of the LGBTQ group chat made for LGBTQ community individuals and then the groups getting spammed and then unsure of who was getting added? But then again, if you are closeted, it might not be the space you want to be. In most of the WhatsApp and FB group chat meant for LGBTQ community people there are safety concerns.
But why are these groups or spaces important? Chat groups and groups are for the LGBTQ community bring in a sense of belonging and appropriate conversations normalize the LGBTQ identity. But safety is a concern because of the unmonitored spaces that LGBTQ group chat tend to become. It is also hard for closeted people to feel safe sometimes, especially in WhatsApp groups.
Here below we have discussed a few reasons why we strongly feel there is a need for LGBTQ group chat for the LGBT community in India:
The Pressure in LGBTQ Dating Apps
Most often LGBT dating apps and LGBT meeting apps are the only places online where LGBT people get to meet other LGBT people. These apps also focus way too much on appearance and a lot of importance is given to uploading an individual’s photo. This makes it harder for closeted people to be themselves in these spaces. The pressure on finding the “one” sometimes makes it harder for people in the closet to converse confidently. The one-on-one chat in these apps can bring up a lot of anxiety in a lot of us.
Making friends as adults is hard no doubt, but when it comes to book clubs or hobby-based groups, there is a sense of certain ease in talking and making friends. And not all of us are always looking for dating or to find the “one person”, some of us are just looking to connect to others who feel the same way as we do about our queerness. But this anxiety seems to be less when it is in a LGBTQ group chat setting and there is no pressure to impress that “one person”. Also, when it is a LGBTQ group chat, conversations tend to flow easily, especially when it is an interest or hobby-based group chat while you are trying to meet LGBT friends online.
Safety in Online Group Chat
Unlike offline spaces, LGBTQ group chat can be accessed anonymously and there is no mandate that you have to come out. You can take your time to feel safe and then update identifiable details on your profile depending on your comfort. A lot of us have found friends in the online spaces but there are reasons to be cautious. Of late there has been a lot of cases of fraud and exploitation that happen on gay dating apps. Safety aside reporting becomes a hassle in cases like these.
With no proper reporting system in the social media groups, unmonitored group chats for the LGBT community can become a space where people trying to exploit. We have verification on our matchmaking app and our WE community also allows only genuine people on board. With a proper reporting system, it is easy to report any suspicious activity on the app and the moderators are ready to take action in case of reports or any kind of online bullying.
LGBTQ youth in online spaces are often targeted for bullying based on their sexual orientations or gender identities.
There are also negative messages about body image on social media and harassment around body images. There is a huge percentage of LGBTQ individuals that use online spaces to find themselves and their tribe. So, they must have safe, affirming experiences while browsing the web.
Join our interest-based and location-based LGBTQ group chat, where you can discuss different queer topics. Share your story or ideas of thoughts with people who have the same worries and fears around queerness. It is similar to an online queer support group where you can be your true self!
Psychology Today defines Queerplatonic Relationships (or friendships) as “relationships that include more, or deeper, commitment than simple friendship but which don’t feel romantic or sexual to those involved.” These Queerplatonic Relationships or friendships among queer people often challenge the heteronormative ideas as to how a relationship should seem. Typically, one of the challenges is the boundaries to which friends can love each other. As it typically happens in heteronormative relationships, there is no innate hierarchy, when it comes to platonicity and romance.
A lot of queer people experience friendship as something very intimate equation between two or more people. For queer people, most times, a natal family doesn’t come before romantic love and romantic love doesn’t come before platonic love. Just as queerness, queerplatonic relationships allow space for fluidity.
This fluidity that Queerplatonic relationships offer becomes important for queer people as it gives space to all kinds of love, love languages, and emotions, which typically a lot of queers people don’t find in a hetero-confined space. Queerplatonic relationships are also dearly important to queers who identify as an aromantic-asexual individuals. Dating apps typically don’t always offer the language to talk about this sort of queer relationships and friendships and with all the pressure in dating apps to “date” the possibility of finding the space to build a relationship like this becomes harder while you are trying to meet LGBT friends online.
Sense Of Belonging
The reasons why a lot of queer people don’t seem to fit in college groups or school groups is predominantly our queerness and the sense of non-acceptance of our queerness. It helps if you are out to them and they are accepting, else the queerness tends to stick out in our own mind and we do end up feeling alone in all those spaces.
Mental Health professionals and therapists are known to recommend joining support groups or a space. Conversations around queerness help normalize how we feel about being queer and spaces where one can talk to people who are queer or are of the same identity to make one feel accepting of their own identity. Someone who is struggling to come out or trying to understand their queerness can find spaces like this is very beneficial.
There is research out there that proves that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, two-spirit, queer, and other sexuality and gender non-conforming youth face significant barriers to belonging in school communities. Research by Carol Goodenow done among Early Adolescent Students talks about the psychological sense of belonging as an important factor in the academic success and wellbeing of youth. This research further suggests that Queer youth individuals feel they most belong when they are a part of the Gender-Sexuality Alliance or when they have caring and supportive adults and friends around them. What helps them most is if they have LGBTQ group chat spaces where they can express themselves and their true identity without being judged.
In India, we are not there yet, where safe Gender-Sexuality Alliances exist or spaces where Gender-Sexuality conversations can be had confidently and without any sort of backlash yet, especially for youth. Colleges and workplaces are not all yet devoid of homophobia, transphobia, or queerphobia. People yet cannot come out as queer without facing some amount of shaming or bullying one might face.
Having an avenue where LGBTQ people can simply exist as themselves, without any judgment or pressure to hide their true self is enormously beneficial. Join our interest and location-based LGBTQ group chats, where you can discuss different LGBTQ topics. Share your story or ideas of thoughts with people who have the same worries and fears around queerness. It is similar to an online LGBTQ support group where you can be your true self!
Digital Safe Spaces and Group Chat
Safe space is generally defined as “The term safe space refers to places created for marginalized individuals to come together to communicate regarding their experiences with marginalization” and seems apt for people anywhere on the LGBTQ spectrum to socialize, and connect in a safe space meant for LGBTQ people.
The idea is that it’s a safe space for LGBTQ individuals from all walks of life to get together, mingle, and connect without fear of outright hatred or even microaggressions. Having our own spaces — gay bars, Pride March celebrations, and book clubs, for example —often linked with the LGBTQ community. While these spaces are open to everyone, including heterosexual and cisgender people, they are primarily recognized as places where queer people present as themselves — that is, they are out as themselves, with their partners, or out as single and queer, seeking new friends, community.
While India may be more accepting and supportive of its LGBTQ community now, it still has a long way to go before we can make them feel like they are in a safe environment or even have safer places that are accessible to everyone. That aside, the world has largely shifted base to the digital world. We eat, breathe, and live on social media, so using digital space to offer this safe space to the LGBTQ online community to speak up, share their experience and receive acceptance is the way to go.
Stereotyping of Queer People
The mainstream media often tends to stereotype Queer People and it is so bad that there was a cis-heterosexual woman out there who apparently has used Grindr to meet “gay BFFs”. The “gay BFF” is a stereotype that Hollywood makes out to be a “thing”. As much as this is unlikely to be happy as often as one might imagine, other stereotypes can be quite hurtful and harmful to individuals from the LGBTQ community. These preconceptions and stereotypes may make it difficult for events and spaces to be inclusive to members of the LGBTQ community while someone is trying to meet LGBT friends online.
The amount of sexualization that Queer people, especially lesbians face, makes it harder for a lesbian to feel safe and “come out” in public spaces that are meant and predominantly designed for cis-het people. These spaces might not be all welcoming when Queer people are just looking to “make friends” these preconceptions and stereotypes make it harder and frustrating for queer people to hang out in cis-het spaces.
In summary, we have all taken a cis-het friend or two to queer events or queer book clubs and it is certainly OK to do this. We’ve all been in locations intended for cis-het people and experienced both hatred and acceptance. Straight women using Grindr or straight men strolling into lesbian bars might feel like a violation of space and safety for LGBTQ persons who are attempting to enjoy their privacy and freedom in those constrained environments.
So, it’s not that LGBTQ people hate heterosexual people; it’s that queer people desire a place in the world where we can completely accept our true selves. There is a dire need for these environments designed for queer people to find their tribe and feel the safety and trust to be themselves and find acceptance from themselves and the community.