Facebook may seem like just a social media platform — one we can use to post our vacation pics and creep on an ex or two — but, of course, it’s much more than that. It has entirely changed the way we communicate, keep in touch with loved ones, and express ourselves. And, according to recent research, Facebook has become of a part of America’s identity in a very personal way: more and more people are using it as a way to come out as LGBT to their friends and family.
In honor of National Coming Out Day (October 11th) and Spirit Day (October 15th), Facebook published a blog post examining “how some highly-public moments for the LGBT community affected support for this movement and the rate at which people came out on Facebook.” (They measured “coming out” as updating their profile to specify a custom gender or change their attraction to same gender.)
First, Facebook measured how many Americans have come out on Facebook since last year’s National Coming Out Day, with the y-axis measuring how many times more Americans came out since that day (on June 26th, the day of SCOTUS’s ruling that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states, over 2.5 times more people came out on Facebook!).
Facebook explained that over 800,000 people have changed their sexual attraction or used the custom gender tool in the past year. But the most obvious jump was on the day of SCOTUS’ ruling, when the ratio of people who change their “interested in” changed it to reflect a same-gender interest (normally, that ratio is 1:10 — it was 1:5 that day). And there’s a particularly heartwarming trend that Facebook found as well:
They also released a state-by-state graph, which shows that New York and Nevada have the most people who are publicly out, while states like Mississippi have the least:
And that’s not all: Facebook has seen a massive trend in people in general who support the LGBT movement. Now, 5.7 million Americans are fans of at least one of the 300 most popular LGBT pages, such as Human Rights Campaign and Equality Now. Over 26 million people changed their profile picture to include a rainbow filter in the days following the SCOTUS ruling. There was also a large increase in fans during the five days after the ruling. What’s particularly interesting about the spikes in June is that it really emphasizes how much people take legal recognition and legal equality to heart when deciding to publicly declare their own identity (or support of others’ identities).
One thing’s for sure: Facebook has certainly become far more than just a place to post our vacation pics. It’s become a way for Americans to express the most important parts of their identity. Check out the research for yourself here.