The metaverse promises us something that a lot of IRL places don’t, the opportunity to be whoever we want to be.
Over the last twelve months, we’ve been exposed to terms like “metaverse”, “Web 3.0” and “NFTs” like never before. Concepts that have a goal to create more intelligent, connected and open digital platforms. In fact, when Mark Zuckerberg addressed Meta’s rebranding, he mentioned that it will provide us with opportunities for belongingness and presence in a digital world.
“This (the metaverse) will open up more opportunities no matter where you live. You’ll be able to spend more time on what matters to you […] This isn’t about spending more time on screens; it’s about making the time we already spend better.”
-Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Meta
But what does that mean? It is dreadful to witness that for some minority groups, expressing who they truly are leads to violent actions towards them, from hateful speech to death penalties. For example, there are still 69 countries that consider homosexual activities a crime. And even more shockingly, there are 13 countries that still punish homosexuality with death penalties. In these places, jumping into the metaverse may be your only option to show your true identity without experiencing assault or harassment.
The importance of an LGBTQ+ friendly metaverse
Pride festivals are breathtaking events to celebrate love in all forms. However, they only tend to happen in big cities, leaving LGBTQ+ members outside those areas without a place that not only accepts but celebrates who they are; a place where they can meet likeminded people who can they can relate to.
Investing in the metaverse is investing in the chance to bring communities together, to make sure that everyone can be present without hiding who they truly are. But not only that, investing in Web 3.0 technologies and the LGBTQ+ community also has the following benefits:
- More diverse teams have 19% higher revenues due to innovation: Being in spaces where different minds collide, brings new perspectives and different ways of tackling issues. Imagine how much more could be achieved if more people have safer places to be.
- One in five people identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community: More people are publicly identifying as queer. In fact, Gen-Zs (the ones who have been in the metaverse for a while -Fortnite, Minecraft-) are now eight times more likely to identify as bisexual than those who were 18-24 in 2015.
- 43% of people are unsure if pride campaigns are genuine. With more brands jumping into pride month and changing their logos for rainbow versions, consumers are sceptical about a brand’s intention. Rather than spending your marketing budget on a short-term activation, why not invest in tech that can make your brand more inclusive.
The reality is that there is plenty of room to get it right. With the metaverse and the LGBTQ+ community on the rise, there is scope for brands to drive inclusion in these new digital spaces.
The metaverse is meant to be a place where everything is possible, transforming the way we connect. These digital spaces are particularly good for transgender people, as in the metaverse they can create an avatar with the gender they identify as, adjust their vocal tone and pitch, and their physical appearance to match who they are.
Technology & LGBTQ+ communities
Back when the internet wasn’t developed yet and there were no identifiable gay neighbourhoods, members of the community used to look for innovative ways to communicate with each other. In the 1950s, gay men would use magazines to connect with one another, such as Physique Pictorial (a magazine that used bodybuilding culture as a cover for homoeroticism). This and many other magazines, gave gay men the opportunity to find each other and create communities together.
As time went by and technology improved, members of the LGBTQ+ community that didn’t live close to others found different ways online to connect and promote inclusivity across society; such as through forums and websites. In fact, research shows that LGBTQ+ individuals are early adopters of technology and that adoption of this was the major driver of organized community building and connecting of those members.
Technology has played a massive role in the progress that has been made across the LGBTQ+ community. It has allowed members to connect beyond physical boundaries, reduce loneliness, and increase awareness of issues that affect the community.
Nowadays, if you search for “LGBTQ resources”, you will probably get around 105,000,000 results. Such as:
- Misterb&b: A travel app that connects LGBTQ+ with holiday accommodation, aiming to eliminate the risk of homophobic abuse abroad.
- LGBTTOKEN: Form of cryptocurrency that protects the identity of people who might face the threat of economic persecution.
- TheTribe: a forum that offers a safe place to connect and discuss the challenges that members of the LGBTQ+ community face.
- Geosure: App that shows the safest places to travel.
Getting that quantity of resources was an unachievable dream less than 100 years ago. Whilst it’s important to celebrate all those achievements, in reality, there is still so much work that needs to be done. All industries should be mindful of the way they are expressing their support- having a safe platform for people to feel included will get you further than any short-term pride campaign.
Different technologies are particularly important for people who might live close to hostile environments. That need for belongingness adapts to spaces and technology available but it should not end there – these digital platforms need to be drivers of change for IRL situations.
Pride is a celebration of love in all forms, a celebration of how much has been achieved and the progress that has been made for LGBTQ+ rights. However, it is not just colourful parades, it is a moment to question what needs to be done moving forward and to remind people how damaging hateful speech and attacks can be, such as homophobia.
The metaverse will transform the way we connect. Creating an inclusive environment in the metaverse will show how much more can be achieved when hateful speech is taken away from the equation. Opting for an LGBTQ+ friendly metaverse is opting for technology that will drive change towards a more inclusive society on and off-line.