We've all seen them in our Facebook friend networks, the friends who have 'Equality' as their middle name, such as Joe Equality Smith or Jane Equality Doe.
The other night, I was scouring Facebook for blog ideas and came across the fan page '"Equality" is My Middle Name.' I was pleased to discover that all the 'Equality' Facebook middle naming was part of an actual campaign. What a simple, yet powerful way that the LGBT community and our allies can use social media to show support in winning full equality. With over 3,000 fans, the fan age has proven to be an effective tool used to spread the equality message.
Check out my interview with fellow Bilerico contributor Nadine Equality Smith, the creator of '"Equality is My Middle Name," after the jump.
1. When and how did the idea of "Equality is my middle name" come about?
I added it to my middle name because there are a few Nadine Smiths on Facebook and I figured it would make me easier to find. It had a fascinating effect. Family members, old high school friends, people I knew outside of activism would ask me about it and the conversations were always fascinating. It gave a few people the opportunity to come out as LGB or T. But mostly, it gave acquaintances a chance to let me know they were pro-equality. In the lead up to the National Equality March I was focused on the things people could do if they weren't going to DC. It took off from there and suddenly I was overwhelmed with emails and IMs from people who have changed their name.
2. What was your goal for the campaign?
I had hoped people would have the same experience I had friends, family and old acquaintances using the name change as an invitation to conversation. Straight friends of mine began adopting it as a show of solidarity. Then they started commenting on LGBT related blogs. It seemed to give people permission to be more visible allies. Facebook is such a shared national campfire. We share stories and jokes and the big things that matter as well. I wanted to make this part of people's everyday life.
3. Do you have access to any Facebook stats that illustrate how many people have participated in the campaign?
I have no idea how many people changed their middle name to Equality. It definitely has a life of its own. I got an IM from a student who said more than 50,000 people had added Equality as their middle name about a month into the effort. I don't know how to verify or track that. I do know that there are now many, many more permutations of the idea. People are making their organization or personal slogan their middle name.
4. How did you use social media to promote the campaign? Was it just through Facebook or did you leverage other platforms like blogs or Twitter?
Word spread first through the Facebook group and through an event. Then it seemed to hit a tipping point. On my friends list overnight, half the people had added "Equality". It was reposted many times over but I think the reason it took off was because people were making it part of their name and every post they made took the idea viral.
Click here to join the '"Equality' is My Middle Name" campaign.