Advocacy Facebook for Gays and Lesbians in Essay

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Advocacy: Facebook for Gays and Lesbians in Canada Today

A growing number of organizations of all types are providing a broad range of social services to the gay and lesbian communities throughout Canada and many of these have used the media to help them achieve their goals. For instance, the group "Dykes on Mykes" has produced a radio show since 1987 to promote community awareness of the challenges facing the gay and lesbian communities in Canada (Macphee & Hogan, 2006). Likewise, Willson, Green, Haworth-Brockman, and Beck (2006) report that they partnered with the Prairie Women's Health Centre of Excellence (PWHCE) in Winnipeg and Saskatoon using a strategy known as "photovoice" to provide impoverished Canadian women with the opportunity to share their experiences using their own words and photographic records of their lives. In the photovoice approach, "Participants are given cameras and training in how to use them; they then photograph aspects of their realities, discuss the photographs, and share them. The process can produce compelling images and stories that become tools for social and personal change, vehicles to raise consciousness and influence policymakers" (pp. 160-161).

Despite the positive outcomes being realized through these media-based advocacy efforts, there remains a lack of a consolidated clearinghouse where representatives from these and like-minded organizations can share their information, research and events. Therefore, the social network forum, Facebook, will be used to provide a convenient and readily accessible clearinghouse for these and like-minded organizations delivering social services to the gay and lesbian communities in Canada. The major strength of Facebook is its cost effectiveness -- the service is absolutely free and many organizations already have their own individual pages on Facebook. Indeed, Chris Hughes, Facebook's out spokesman, emphasizes that, "From the beginning Facebook wanted to be gay-friendly" (quoted in Kim, 2005, p. 44). One of the potential weaknesses of using social network forums is lack of access by members of the targeted population for economic reasons or a lack of basic skills needed to use online resources. In addition, some potential members of the targeted population may feel uncomfortable joining an online community devoted to gay and lesbian issues. In this regard, Kim (2005) adds that, "Being out on the Facebook is a statement, just like coming out face-to-face. It has that same value" (p. 44).

Despite these constraints, recent trends indicate that Facebook is growing in popularity among the gay and lesbian community, and at the high school level: "It's very much something students use to connect with each other now" (Kim, 2005, p. 44)l. In addition, Facebook provides gay and lesbian students with the ability to screen their potential friend lists to other students in their universities or other factors as they deem appropriate. Not surprisingly, increasing numbers of the techno-savvy Millennial Generation are signing up for the service. For instance, Kim reports that, "Unlike its popular counterpart, Friendster.com, Facebook is open only to individuals with a university e-mail address or a screened high school address, and gay students are getting into it in a big way" (2005, p. 44). Therefore, it just makes good sense to take advantage of this social network forum's power to effect meaningful change as described further below.

Key Advocacy Issue

The key advocacy issue addressed by this initiative will be to provide a virtual clearinghouse for educational and community-awareness initiatives, as well as other online resource for gays and lesbians in general and in Canada in particular that recognizes and celebrates the differences of opinion that are inevitable while remaining focused on overcoming the challenges facing the targeted population in Canadian society today.

Opportunities and Barriers

Although the so-called "digital divide" has become less pronounced in recent years, some members of the targeted population may lack Internet access or the skill set needed to navigate social network forums such as Facebook or MySpace. Despite these barriers to access, a growing number of Canadians are participating in these social networking forums and these trends can be used to good effect in communicating with the targeted population in ways that will create new opportunities for information sharing, testimonials, empirical observations and other insights that might go otherwise undiscerned if the broad range of services that are available continue to be presented in an isolated fashion rather than in an online clearinghouse approach.

This approach is congruent with the observation by McTavish (2006) that, "As a relatively new form of feminist organization, virtuality has many benefits. The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC-CDAC) does not pay for office space, regular mail-outs, telephones, or many of the other overhead costs traditionally borne by political organizations" (p. 161). Their online presence also facilitates media access for this group around the clock in a highly cost-effective fashion. In this regard, McTavish adds that, "Though without a centralized phone number, ARCC-CDAC provides the media with cell phone numbers for its spokespeople. The exchange of information and communication between members is immediate and regular. The web site and listservs are available 24 hours a day, offering a wide range of political and practical information" (p. 161). Taken together, the opportunity to provide a centralized clearinghouse for these disparate but valuable resources represents a timely and valuable enterprise that can be achieved using the procedures described further below.

Step-by-Step Description of Procedures

Who will advocate. The membership of the Facebook for Canadian Gays and Lesbians will provide user-based advocacy content. This membership is expected to include the entire range of gay and lesbian permutations, including voices from so-called hybrid identities that may be overlooked by even the gay and lesbian mainstream community. For instance, Bersten (2008) suggests that this community can create a multitude of identities, each with its own unique set of challenges and obstacles to social development. According to Bersten, "Combine any one hybrid identity with another axis of marginality and it becomes complicated, a criss-crossing matrix of hyper-differentiated bodies: black gay bodies and Jewish lesbian bodies, certainly, but also Asian-American Deaf bodies and African-Italian transgendered bodies and everything in between" (2008, p. 9). By providing this broad-based coalition of interests with a mutual forum in which to voice their views, the initiative envisioned herein will serve as an advocacy platform that will be as responsive as possible to everyone while remaining focused on the issues described above.

To whom they will advocate. The Facebook group's targeted audience for advocacy will include governmental policymakers at all levels, media gatekeepers and other stakeholders in the community.

How they will advocate. The entire range of media options available through Facebook will be used for advocacy purposes, including the photovoice method described above with the photographs being posted on a page dedicated to this function, personal accounts and testimonials, as well as peer-reviewed and other scholarly research resources.

Group processes and tools to be used. As a community of interest, a number of group processes can be used to facilitate information sharing in an online forum, and the set of tools that are available for this purpose include real-time chatrooms, ongoing, seasonal and periodic updates concerning community events, video and photograph sharing, as well as the ability to provide a comprehensive listing of community and online resources for different social services of interest to the targeted population.

Timeline. In reality, the steps involved in creating a Facebook group and site are straightforward and only require a few minutes; however, building a membership requires time and the activities and tasks set forth in Table 1 below will be used to guide the process.

Table 1

Preliminary Timeline for Facebook Group and Site Development

ACTIVITIES/TASKS

TIME (MONTHS) (2012)

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

1

Establish Facebook group and create site

X

X

2

Recruit corporate partners to donate for every member who "likes" their Web site or Facebook site

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

3

Advertise the creation of the group on Facebook and through press releases

X

X

X

4

Solicit content from relevant organizations and individuals

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

5

Create new pages for organizations as needed

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

6

Promote current video and photo presentations from users on ongoing basis

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

7

Create links to other online and community-based resources; solicit additional input from members

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

8

Other activities as needed

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

Budget. Although the Facebook service is free to groups, there will be some modest expenses involved as the initiative progresses such as postage and mailing materials to recruit corporate partners; however, the entire project can be operated for free using volunteer moderators as long as necessary.

Focus of the advocacy strategy. The overriding strategy of the initiative proposed herein is to take advantage of the free resources that are available from Facebook and…[continue]

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"Advocacy Facebook For Gays And Lesbians In" (2012, January 11) Retrieved December 2, 2016, from http://www.paperdue.com/essay/advocacy-facebook-for-gays-and-lesbians-48807

"Advocacy Facebook For Gays And Lesbians In" 11 January 2012. Web.2 December. 2016. <http://www.paperdue.com/essay/advocacy-facebook-for-gays-and-lesbians-48807>

"Advocacy Facebook For Gays And Lesbians In", 11 January 2012, Accessed.2 December. 2016, http://www.paperdue.com/essay/advocacy-facebook-for-gays-and-lesbians-48807


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