Sometimes the internet sucks. Cyber-bullying takes the quantum leap from the schoolyard into everyday life. Predators target kids. Dating sites kill our venues. Homophobic hate groups set up pages to propagate prejudice and incite homophobic violence. The Skype sex scandal exposed grim flaws in ADF ‘culture’ as never quite seen before.

Yet for all its faults, we come back for more. That’s because, despite all of this, the ether thrives — social media can be an awesome and inspiring tool.

The Facebook page for Gay Marriage Rights (GMRA) just hit 100,000 fans. As mentioned by the page’s founder, Ben Cooper, the medium provides much-needed support to gender diverse youth who might not otherwise have such resources.

If only this stuff was around when I was at school.

Recently, we were witness to the collective might of people power and social networking, when an online campaign overturned Ashdel’s decision in Queensland to ban a safe-sex street banner showing two gay men hugging for the Rip’n’Roll campaign. Yes, we won. And the obnoxious clowns from the Australian Christian Lobby lost their myopic bid to veto the ads.

Evidently, they’d rather people grow up ignorant of safe-sex education than acknowledge we exist — and yes, also happen to fornicate. Of course they argued kids shouldn’t see images of two men. Yet you couldn’t ask for a more tasteful pic. And doesn’t it beg the question, why should kids be witness to public acts of heterosexual intimacy? It’s the same daft, bollocky argument.

Thankfully, an abundance of digital voices — gay, straight or otherwise — also recognised the absurdity. Even our Kylie tweeted her support. Within hours of the ban, an aggressive online campaign had scrapped the ludicrous decision, before it even reached the evening news.

Such is the power of community and social media.

Networking sites also provide a space to meet and connect. Since being away from Sydney, I couldn’t have noticed this more. While surrounded by bogans and bible-thumpers, I’ve secretly been dancing on that podium, throwing my hands in the air with Kylie, or going for a dip in your rooftop pool, living vicariously through your portal.

GLBTI youth in isolated areas are connected with others who teach them there’s nothing wrong with them, to embrace their diversity. Yes, new media does have its benefits.

Unlike the gorgeous Miss Minogue though, you probably won’t catch me mounting podiums or gushing fountains any time soon. Unless, of course, she happens to read this and retweets me.

When the Aphrodite herself is in town, anything’s possible.

info: Don’t forget to follow SSO at @star_observer and Damien @damientweeting

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