Queerty’s SXSW Conversation On Leveraging Straight Allies In The Fight For Equality

On Monday more than 40 South By Southwest attendees joined us for an official conversation on “How Social Media Is Creating Marriage Equality” at the Austin Convention Center.

The “campfire conversation” was moderated by Queerty’s own editorial director, Chris Bull and led by panelists Matt Baume of the American Foundation for Equal Rights and Brendon Feldman of YouTube.

“For marriage equality to truly succeed we need to gain support from outside the LGBT community,” said Baume. “The three groups that we need to do a better job of engaging are people of color, elders and the religious community.”

According to Baume, one practical tactic is to use social media to amplify the voices of straight allies in those communities so that the message can feel authentic.

Talk of authentic ally support soon turned into a discussion about Macklemore and his “Same Love” song, which was featured in the #ProudToLove YouTube campaign video that Feldman showed to the audience.

The panelists all agreed that great strides were made by LGBT activists way before the advent of social media, before “It Gets Better” and the HRC red flag Facebook profile pics.

But 2004 provided a perfect storm for the movement to speed up: Facebook and YouTube enabling LGBT stories to be depicted in more nuanced ways (as supposed to the defacto flamboyant Pride floats) and social backlash from President Bush’s federal ban on gay marriage, which prompted San Francisco Mayor Newsom to start issuing marriage licensing in the city for a hot minute.

“What are we going to do once the GOP figures out how to use the internet?” asked an audience member, referring to the Republican Party’s recent attacks on women’s rights.

“We’re just going to have to learn to spread our message more effectively,” Baume replied.