June 27, 2019
By Efraín López
Activists across the world gather during the month of June to celebrate Pride by commemorating the Stonewall Riots in 1969. Thousands of events are organized during the month-long Pride celebration, to remind the LGTBQ community that they have a voice. Social Media provides the community with another outlet for raising political awareness and for individuals to share their personal stories with the world.
Our research shows that the attention surrounding Pride Month on social media is on the rise. In June 2017, there were 3.3 million mentions of Pride on Twitter; in 2018, this number doubled to 6.6 million. During the first two weeks of Pride Month 2019, alone, mentions surpassed 6.9 million, with mentions expected to reach over 8 million by the end of the month. And these mentions are being driven by users. In 2019, press mentions accounted for 8.0% of total Pride-related conversations, down from 17.3% three years ago.
There has also been a shift in the nature of these conversations. In 2017, Twitter users discussing Pride Month primarily referenced the Affordable Care Act and gay marriage (5.7% and 4.9% respectively). However, in 2019, users shifted their attention to concerns about mental health and the psychological effects suffered as a result of discrimination (5.3%).
Back in 2017, discussions about Pride Month by users between 18-34 years old accounted for 45% of the overall conversations; in 2019, this increased to 47%, as Pride continues to be more and more visible to younger communities. Geographically, the United States and the United Kingdom continue to be the countries with the most users participating in Pride-related conversation on social media (66.4% and 10.0% of mentions as of 06/15/2019, respectively). During this year’s festivities, countries such as Australia and Brazil joined the ranks of the top ten countries in terms of Pride Month mentions on Twitter (1.6% and 1.0%, respectively).
The increase in conversations around Pride Month on social media has also been accompanied by an increase in polarizing commentary on the topic. In 2017, 6.1% of discussions about Pride Month were negative in sentiment; this share doubled in June 2018, as negative conversations accounted for 12.8% of social media chatter. As of June 15, 2019, negative commentary among Pride Month discussions accounted for nearly 16.2% of total conversations. Certain users have been openly critical of Pride Month celebrations, which has driven pro-Pride users to lash out and denounce discrimination and violence against activists, resulting in heated discussion.
Businesses have seized the opportunity to endorse diversity and connect with the movement through corporate communication supportive of Pride, Pride-related product releases, and endorsements featuring LGBTQ spokespeople. Nickelodeon for instance, a network known for featuring LGBTQ characters and shows, generated over 32.5K mentions from a single post featuring its rainbow-colored logo. However, some companies have also faced social backlash for a perceived disregard of cultural events. Back in 2017, Netflix was harshly criticized on social media due to the poorly-timed cancelation of Sense8 (at the very start of Pride Month); the online series featured progressive themes throughout its storyline and was created by the Wachowski sisters, both transgender women. As a result, 54.8% of Pride-related mentions referencing Netflix were of negative sentiment.
Social media analysis is a powerful tool in understanding the reach of cultural events such as Pride Month. Examining these conversations provides us insight as to how Pride Month celebrations have shifted on social media, over time, and allows us to tap into the minds of the collective and gather valuable insights that can help fuel change and enable progress.