#326 Reveal 3 Tiny Words to the LGBT Community on Reddit

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A few days ago I started a photo project called 3 Tiny Words. The goal was to show solidarity and help stop discrimination and hate against gays by having users submit photos of themselves with the words “I AM GAY” on them, whether or not they were actually gay. I am the first to admit that not a whole lot of thought went into it. I had an initial idea, then ran with it, throwing it out there a couple of days later. I thought it was a good idea and since ideas have a shelf life, I wanted to get it up as soon as possible.

My friends seemed to have a positive reaction to the project. I thought I had a good thing. The next step was actually revealing it to the gay community to see what they thought. Since I really didn’t have access to the gay community in person, I headed to my old standby, reddit. The biggest gay community there is a subreddit called LGBT. Of course that isn’t only gays but lesbians, bisexual and transsexuals.

Here is the post.

I posted it in the morning and the entire day I checked in on it. As it started to get attention, it turned out to be one of the most stressful days I’ve had in a long time. I’ve put stuff out there on reddit before, but nothing I had a strong emotional connection to. I was really proud of this project and thought it could make a difference. I admit, I just assumed LGBT would love it. If you look at the post, it generated a lot of attention.

A lot of the first comments were kind of negative but not in a non-constructive way. The people were trying to explain that while my intention was good, my execution may not have been. This bummed me out immediately. I felt like I was being attacked. I was in some cases but overall, as I said, the comments were constructive but passionate. What I gathered and didn’t realize, is that LGBT’s individual sexualities are identities for these people. And those identities encompass a wide range. Far greater than just straight and gay.

At first I thought, why would they want to be identified by their sexuality? But I learned that a lot of people work really hard to come to terms with their sexuality. They become proud of being able to be open about it. Therefore, it becomes part of their identity. Much in the same way being Chinese is part of my identity. It is not the only thing that defines me, but it is a big part of it.

So a bisexual may not want to say they’re gay, even if the purpose of the site is to show solidarity. It’s easy for a straight person to say they are gay to make a point because our sexuality is not something we have to fight for. It’s the societal norm. It’s accepted. But for an LGBT, it belittles their sexual identity to simply say they are “gay.”

In this way, I was pretty naive about how that all worked. I was hard on myself for not doing enough research before setting this project up.

That being said, I still like the idea of the project and I was only trying to do a good thing. A lot of people did like the idea. I gained about 35 followers on the Facebook page and best of all, people started posting photos. Sure some of them say “bi” instead of “gay” but I feel like it’s great they are participating and expressing themselves at all.

A lot gave suggestions on how to alter the project. Ultimately, it’s my project but as I said above, I relaxed my requirements on the photos. I learned a lot about having a vision and sticking to it, even in the face of criticism. This part of someone’s comment made me feel really good though:

You are awesome for trying to do this. I know r/lgbt isn’t the easiest community to just walk into.

I’m not sure exactly how I want the project to go now. But I realize that maybe people just want a place to be proud of their sexual identity. If 3 Tiny Words is where they want to do it, so be it.

One Comment to “#326 Reveal 3 Tiny Words to the LGBT Community on Reddit”

  1. LMH 8 May 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    After reading the Reddit feedback- I decided to post own own I AM ___. I hope you like it!