Equality Matters is using the power of social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter to spread the message about the importance of equal rights for LGBT people. The group is asking people to change their profile pics to one of several Equal Matters created graphics, post links for the event to their profiles and status to with a message promoting equal rights for LGBT Americans.
Equality Matters: Online March for LGBT Equality
From the Equality Matters press release:
"If the gay community is going to achieve equality, we need to find new ways to educate the American public and reach them where they spend their time. We felt the best way to achieve that was to take advantage of the web and sites like Facebook," said Bruce Namerow, founder of Equality Matters.
Since its launch just over one week ago, the Facebook event has attracted more than 135,000 invited guests with more than 40,000 registering their intent to "attend" this virtual event. The numbers continue to grow rapidly and organizers are hopeful that numbers will exceed 100,000 before the event begins on January 18.
There has been a lot of discussion in the LGBT community about the efficacy of online actions for equal rights vs actions that happen in the bricks and mortar world. I think that looking at activism in this kind of black and white way ignores the fact that we need more people working in a multiplicity of ways to build the LGBT movement and advance equal rights.
Online actions like the Online March for LGBT Equality, the actions organized by Join the Impact etc should not be seen in a vacuum. Activists who are developing innovative organizing tactics online should be working closely with traditional lobbying and grassroots organizations on unifying strategies that can take advantage of the strengths of both kinds of organizing.
The power of the Online March for LGBT Equality lies in its use of Facebook as an organizing and communications tool.
When any member of Facebook updates their status with an equality message, RSVPs for the march or changes their profile pic to one of the Equality Matters graphics, that information will show up in the newsfeeds of all of their friends. That viral quality will help to spread the message and garner new supporters who will themselves increase the viral nature of the action.
For me as someone who has been organizing at the national level for nearly ten years, the question is how do we combine the online and the offline in innovative and more effective strategies that have real world impact and build the movement for LGBT equality.