2 min

Why you need to start using Twitter

Organizing and building community online

If you’re not on Twitter yet, you should be. But you could be forgiven for assuming it’s nothing more than a popularity contest. Last month, mainstream media were buzzing: CNN vs Ashton Kutcher, who will be first to reach one million followers?

Ashton “won” the race, but really — who cares? Is Twitter simply a competition to see who can recruit the most followers?

Not exactly. As a social media website, like Facebook, Twitter also has great potential for activism and community organizing. Queers have already tapped into this potential, and we should keep our eyes open for more opportunities.

Last month, Twitter’s homo-mobilizing power was shown in full-force. When online retailer suddenly labelled gay and lesbian books as “adult material” — effectively censoring thousands of titles — outrage spread quickly on Twitter. #amazonfail, a keyword used to describe the fiasco, was the most talked about topic on Twitter for at least two days. Media and bloggers quickly picked up on the story, and queer Twitterers had already framed the situation in our terms: Amazon messed up bad, and we weren’t going to be quiet until the supposed “glitch” was fixed. Amazon never issued an apology, but queers were heard loud and clear.

On a smaller scale, Canadian queers are already using Twitter for activism and community discussion. During a recent protest against hate crimes in Vancouver, a handful of people posted updates and pictures live from the rally. The user tofufighting posted this simple update with a picture: “at the rally to take back the west end / stop gaybashing / spread peace love & acceptance.

But we need more queer Canadians on Twitter — are you registered? Does your community group or organization have a Twitter account? Where are groups like Egale? American queer organizations (GLAAD, Human Rights Campaign and Equality California among others) have all flocked to Twitter, but many Canadian queer groups are playing catch-up.

If you’re like most people, you might already have a Twitter account, but you’re just not using it. So get to it!

How to get started:

  • Sign up at
  • Post what’s on your mind. Maybe add a link to a news article or websites that interest you. Remember, you only have 140 characters!
  • Still confused? Read this walkthrough.
  • Be sure to activate Twitter with your phone, so you can easily send updates from anywhere.
  • Or if you’re using an iPhone, download the Twitterfon app from the App Store.
  • Follow! We’re @xtra_canada

How a few Canadian queers are using Twitter:

: Twitter bio: “community management //interests: politics, lgbt, social web, culture, cheeses //ex-The Hidden Cameras”

  • Recent Tweet: “Liberal LGBT outreach site asks of Lib. event “Where have all the gay MPs gone?” Should’ve gone to a Tory cabinet meeting
BruceLaBruce: Twitter bio: “Bruce LaBruce is a filmmaker, writer, photographer and artist living in Toronto.”

  • Recent Tweet: “How can we stop Mathew McConaughey from making movies? Maybe if somebody just asked him nicely?”

: Twitter bio: “A multi-authored blog giving you the juiciest, sluttiest & most hilarious “behind-the-towel” info on Toronto’s largest gay mens bathhouse.” It’s a bit catty at times, but bathhouses on Twitter? Awesome!

  • Recent Tweet: “our hawt new posters have for the twinks & twink lovers, one for the leather men & leather lovers..we got u covered bitches!”

and dontcrywolf: these two Ottawa groups are using Twitter to inform members about upcoming events. This is a great way to use Twitter, especially for groups that don’t have the resources to build and maintain their own websites.

  • Recent Tweet: “Join us today at Breathless for our jockstrap auction! Get up close and personal with our hot and sweaty players, and take a jock home!”
Do you use Twitter?

Share your username in the comments below!