The world is starting to open up again and the social landscape we’re reentering looks markedly different than before, not least because many of the spaces we used to frequent are gone. LGBTQ+ third spaces were particularly hard-hit. And it’s not just physical queer spaces that are disappearing: online spaces have been, too.
We’ve been thinking about queer spaces for a while now, when recently, Tumblr recently crowned itself the queerest place on the internet. Both a site that exists firmly in the internet’s past and a stubborn contemporary presence, Tumblr boasts that its users are 200% more likely to identify as LGBTQ+ than users of any other platform. The source of this information is a bit nebulous (I certainly didn’t get a survey), but it’s telling that Tumblr is rallying behind it anyway — especially as the site itself exists on the fringes of the social media landscape.
In contrast to other platforms, where content is intrinsically tied to a face and a person, and the experience is dictated by algorithms, someone’s Tumblr presence can be entirely anonymous. This anonymity allows users, especially those that are queer & questioning, to engage with their identities in a way that can shield them from potential harm. They can connect with others, build community, and participate in discourse without necessarily having to reveal themselves and without as much interference as other platforms.
Tumblr has shown its dedication to its LGBTQ+ users through color-coded LGBTQ+ tags, an animated logo, and two dedicated blogs, The Queerest Place on the Internet and Celebrate. Both blogs, however, are mostly just LGBTQ+ flags and UGC pulled from Tumblr’s 30 Day #ShareYourPride Challenge, with a few bits of history thrown in. Ultimately, it all feels like the rainbow-washing of every other site.