vpnMentor conducted a survey in which they asked 695 LGBTQ+ people worldwide about their experiences online as they relate to their sexual orientation and gender identity. The results – referenced throughout this article – illuminated the unique challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community.
Here are some of their key findings:+
- 73% of all respondents in all categories of gender identity and sexual orientation have been personally attacked or harassed online.
- 50% of all respondents in all categories of gender identity and sexual orientation have suffered sexual harassment online.
- When it comes to sexual orientation, asexual people feel the least safe online, and gay men the safest.
- When it comes to gender identity, transgender women feel the least safe online, and cisgender men the safest.
- Transgender women are the most likely to be outed against their will online, while cisgender men are least likely.
+For complete results, see the appendix.
As experts in the field of cybersecurity, they see it as their mission to provide practical strategies for coping with adversity, bigotry, and abuse on the web, which is why they created this guide.
Finding Community Online
Navigating a heterosexual and cisgender society can be difficult for members of the LGBTQ+ community. Alienated from their family, condemned by their community, and isolated from their friends, many LGBTQ+ people turn to the internet for solidarity.
With just the click of a button, they can escape their physical surroundings and immediately be transported to a place filled with like-minded, accepting people. There, they can seek guidance about coming out, ask questions about queer specific topics, and better understand their sexualities and gender identities.
Simply put, the internet facilities a sense of community among LGBTQ+ people, regardless of their physical proximity to one another.
“The internet and social media are essential to connecting individuals to information and people of the LGBT+ community,” states Mara,* who’s bisexual/pansexual.** “[It provides] spaces for them to find acceptance, community, and support. It is extremely important to keep these connections alive.”
Since the suicide rate for LGBTQ+ youth is substantially higher than that of their heterosexual and cisgender peers, the internet can literally become life-saving.
“There are so many wonderful support groups that help so much, they seriously saved my life and made my search for my identity so much easier,” recounts Mariela, a lesbian.
“[The internet is] definitely a great information sharer for our sometimes disjointed community, especially in rural areas,” says Blair, who’s genderqueer/non-binary.*** “Lots of my trans identity was discerned through language I accessed online as well as looking at other trans narratives online.”