Social media has provided a haven for LGBT activists in Egypt and across the Middle East. Ten years ago Egyptian police raided a gay nightclub and arrested dozens of men and proceeded to torture and shame them. The Egyptian national media published the names of the individuals arrested in an effort to publicly shame them. Such actions did not receive much condemnation and liberal activists were helpless in the face of governmental and societal ostracizing of LGBT individuals.
Following the 2011 revolution in Egypt, many LGBT activists believed that the new era would herald the introduction of freedoms for LGBT citizens. However, this was not the case as the leaders of the revolution did not wish to provoke the conservative nature of Egyptian society. Some gay activists at the time called for an LGBT stand at Tahrir Square- which was the area where millions of Egyptians demonstrated calling for the removal of their president- but they were silenced by leaders of the revolution.
Since social media was a powerful tool in organizing and mobilizing supporters during the revolution, LGBT activists turned to it to rally their cause. Rami Youssef, a young gay Egyptian, turned to Twitter to reveal and openly discuss his sexuality. He was initially shunned by his family and community but he soon began amassing support online through his viral tweets and support from activists and public figures.
Social media, while not dramatically altering the homophobic landscape of middle eastern societies, can at least trigger a conversation about the rights of LGBT citizens. This will inevitably lead to tangible change in years to come.