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How the LGBTQ+ community on Twitter has become incredibly toxic

I write this article with first-hand experience in the LGBTQ+ community.

As a white gay man, I recognise the problem white gay men and Twitter have.

Giving the voiceless a voice is at the heart of Twitter. However, I see too often my community using Twitter for the wrong reasons.

Social media has been coming under attack a lot over the past few years. Like many, I agree that social media can be harmful when used for excessive periods of time, but also fail to act or address my own issues with the internet. Instagram, Twitter and Facebook can easily take up three-four hours of my day. While I could probably spend those hours doing something much more productive, the fear of missing out is unbearable.

I use almost every social media. Twitter, however, is my favourite. I love following witty and humorous people from all over the globe and finding common interests with people I have never met. It is for this reason that I follow a lot, and I mean a lot, of LGBTQ+ people.

Where I live, the gay scene is minimal and Twitter allowed me an insight into the lives of the out and proud LGBTQ+ kids who I dreamed of being like. Similarly, I also relished the opportunity to read the inner thoughts of these people, becoming somewhat giddy at discovering so many people shared my experiences of feeling like an outcast.

The once positive and exciting online LGBTQ+ community—nicknamed gay Twitter—has become a nasty place.

Too common I find myself stumbling across the same types of tweets. These tweets often contain sexist, fat-shaming and transphobic messages. White, middle class, toned, 20-something gay men are the main culprits.

Gay Twitter has become a toxic environment, reflecting the issues within the LGBTQ+ community which we need to address.

Boys continue to body shame men and women online. If you are part of the LGBTQ+ community, being anything other than a twink or jock is unacceptable. Shirtless and nude photos, used to try and seek validation from the community, are all too commonly used to shame others who post. Boys shame other boys bodies, while at the same time post about their own body confidence issues.

For LGBTQ+ people, gay Twitter has become The Hunger Games of who can be the alpha gay.

This type of shaming used to be just from the so-called ‘straight acting’ men, but now this behaviour is often demonstrated by more feminine guys too. Cruel, bitchy and hateful tweets are labelled 'funny'. Boys in the community continue to attack men and women online, forgetting that being gay and bitchy isn’t a desirable personality.

We must support and celebrate others. We know—more than most—how it feels to be different and feel like an outcast. 40 % of LGBTQ+ people are said to struggle with mental health issues, compared with the national average of 20%. So why is it we are now attacking others? Well, I have a theory.

But why does this happen?

During school, 45% of all LGBTQ+ people report bullying, with the number being higher if you are a woman, transgender or a person of colour. This bullying is often expressed in the form of cruel jokes, used to mock us in front of peers. These jokes make the bully feel more powerful and popular in front of their peers. I believe that the gay men on Twitter, writing these nasty tweets, are trying to achieve the same.

As the community has grown, both in age and numbers, gay teens have found a space where they feel accepted. However, as with any group of people, there are those who wish to be the most powerful and popular. As a result, the online community has become anything but accepting, rejecting those who do not fit their criteria of being white, handsome and toned. Gay men of colour, those who are short, stocky etc. receive little notice from the elite gay Twitter, with lesbians, bisexual women and transgender individuals almost completely ignored.

As a community who receives so much hate from society, why do we seek to exclude others from our community? LGBTQ+ people should know better than to regurgitate the same hate speech used against us in school.

Twitter can connect people all over the world, yet it can also bring out the absolute worst in us. Gay Twitter does not represent the entire community, it is harmful and hateful towards many.