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My problem with Pride Profile Pictures

Over the last week (and a bit), 25 million Facebook users have added a rainbow filter to their profile pictures so as to mark LGBT+ Pride week and the American Supreme Court's declaration of the prohibition of same-sex marriage as being unconstitutional.
Mark Zuckerberg introduced the 'Celebrate Pride' filter by updating his own profile picture.
Initially this would seem to be a pretty incredible trend: millions of people across the world are publicly acknowledging and depicting their support for LGBT+ rights. As a topic which can often go un-discussed, LGBT+ rights are providing the basis for a viral online trend. LGBT+ individuals have a sudden, possibly-unprecedented amount of support from family and friends which they may not have even been aware existed.

Supporting LGBT+ rights became cool.
And 25 million people, around the world, declared their support for the rights of a minority community.

But that is exactly where we can begin to see a problem.

Mass, public support for the LGBT+ community became fashionable. People changed their profile picture because their friends had and they too supported LGBT+ rights. For them, they were taking a strong stance in solidarity with other Facebook users against discrimination. Great.

But why was this support not there before Pride week? Or before the Supreme Courts' ruling. Or when other countries' governments passed the same law, years beforehand. Or before it became cool to not hate LGBT+ individuals. Why does it take an online trend for people to be somewhat-vocal and support marginalised groups?

For many people, adding a filter to their profile picture permanently affirms them as a champion of LGBT+ rights and they've suddenly always advocated equality. Adding the filter takes no effort - people don't actually have to care or empathise with LGBT+ individuals. The trend only extenuates the issues which have been addressed with Hashtag Activism - people can show their support and go. They don't have to actually interact with the reality of LGBT+ lives.

LGBT+ activists have died in attempts to advocate equality. LGBT+ individuals have withstood discrimination throughout their entire lives. Laws still exist where you can be jailed or beaten or killed for being LGBT+. Adding a rainbow filter to your profile picture just doesn't cut it. Using it without context detracts from the empowerment and unity that the flag represents for LGBT+ individuals.By all means, acknowledge you support and you being an ally. But do it with awareness and genuine passion.

And what if this is where (superficial) vocal support begins to diminish? (ALS, anyone?) The same 25 million people will not be standing up for LGBT+ individuals on a daily basis because it is not cool, it is not easy and it is not expected of them.

The real and practical issues which to continue to exist are not addressed, while 25 million Facebook users are celebrating acceptance.

For me, the Facebook rainbow filter did have authentic intentions as well as marketing value.  But for the great majority of people who changed their profile picture, this is where the expression of support will end. They will not begin to oppose LGBT rights. They're still going to be decent human beings.. But for a lot of people, this trend and the yes-vote have signified that equality has been achieved and we are still so far from it.

I'm not arguing that trends like this shouldn't take place. Celebrating diversity should take place on the biggest scale possible, as frequently as possible. But if you did add a rainbow filter to your profile picture last week, please remember that lives for the great majority of LGBT+ individuals have not changed all that much. We've reached a new milestone, yes. But we need to keep moving and the LGBT+ community needs your support. They need support which extends beyond changing the hue of your favourite picture of yourself for three days before trying to change it back without coming across as homophobic. The struggle.

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