Sunday, 17 April 2016

The Rise of the Minority

5



     According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the need to be loved and accepted is right after our psychological and safety needs. In other words, after the safety and psychological aspect of an individual is being fulfilled, such as having shelter, food and healthcare, it is equally important to have attachment to a larger community, such as having friends and partners who share similar ideologies and experiences. As such, we are constantly finding new platforms to fulfill this need. 

     As we are living in the era of new media, a simple click on the search button enables Facebook users to find groups such as those of similar interests, religion or specific sexual orientation to acquire a sense of belonging. Most of the time, these groups that are readily available on Facebook are based on mainstream interests. In June 2015, the hashtags #LoveWins and #Pride flooded the News Feed of Facebook and profile pictures were updated with a rainbow overlay to foster an inclusive environment in which all are supported regardless of race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. However, things were not always like that back then. There are groups that were and still are perceived to deviate from the social norm such as groups that promote rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT). As they are seen as being deviant, LGBT tend to make their sexual orientation something personal and private to avoid being judged by the public. 

     However, there are also those who are not afraid to express themselves differently even though they might receive negative responses from the so called “mainstream society”.  As of late, new media has become the ideal choice for people to voice out their opinions or in this case, to raise awareness on certain issues that they care for. This is due to new media being a public sphere that allows citizens to have greater access to information in an instant. There are various blogs, news and even magazines that focuses on the issue of LGBT.  For example, the two links below are blogs that talks about various issues of LGBT and are discussed through comments left on specific posts and everyone is allowed to participate as well as being entitled to their own opinions.

http://joemygod.blogspot.com/
http://queernewyorkblog.blogspot.my/

     The main purpose of the articles presented in these blogs is to raise awareness among public by discussing the news and issues regarding LGBT around the world, at the same time speak out for these minorities. As the authors of these blogs are from the United States of America, issues they discussed were in relation to what is going on at their place. Especially with the upcoming Presidential elections, they were critical of the stances of the politicians toward this matter and how these politicians could help or threaten their community. 

https://letsqueerthingsup.com/


The above link on the other hand provides readers with real accounts of LGBT that have faced discrimination due to this matter. This blog aims to show readers the pain and emotional abuse LGBT have to go through simply because of their sexual orientation and along with the experiences they share, they hope to be able to help those who can relate in order for them to pull through too. The author is also active in replying readers' comments and opinions. This could be explained through Castells’ resistance identities. According to Castells (2010), resistance identities are constructed as to seek recognition for stigmatised identities that do not enjoy a high symbolic and material statues. 
It gives individuals who are categorized in LGBT group an identity and through that, it helps these individuals to alleviate their feeling of loneliness and isolation as well as prevent them from being discriminated.

     Today, LGBT is no longer inferior and they are constantly fighting for their own rights. For instance, the approval of same sex marriage in America by President Barrack Obama in 2012 is an example on how identity gives voices and power to people. They can no longer be ignored or oppressed but to a certain extent, act as pressure groups to pressure the government especially in policy making. In this sense, new media plays a huge role as it acts as a channel to allow borderless connection of different individuals throughout the world and enable people from different places to unite as one based on their interests.

Reference:
Castells, M. (2010). The power of identity. (2nd ed.). West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.

Lafferty, J. (2015). #Lovewins: How the same-sex marriage decision spread through social. Retrieved from http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/lovewins-how-the-same-sex-marriage-decision-spread-through-social/622661