Lessons in Building Safe, Inclusive, and Functional Spaces for LGBTQ+ Folks

If you’re wondering how you can more actively foster safety and belonging for LGBTQ+ folks in your online community, there’s precedent to learn and borrow from. In this episode of Community Signal, we’re joined by Samantha “Venia” Logan, the CEO and founder of Socially Constructed. Venia shares lessons from her decade of experience building community for LGBTQ+ individuals, which started when she began sharing her transition journey on YouTube. 

Patrick and Venia discuss tools, policies, and practices that can help build queer friendly spaces over time. For example, how easy is it for someone to edit their profile information within your online community? What specific policies do you have in place to protect LGTBQ+ people? And a big one – how are others in your organization (outside of the community team) contributing to diversity and inclusion?

At this point you might be asking, “how do I measure or communicate progress?” To this we ask, what are community-based outcomes that indicate someone feels safe contributing and like they belong? As Venia explains (15:23): “As a person feels more and more comfortable self-disclosing, they’re going to use more organic language, they’re going to talk a lot more, their rate of inclusion is going to increase, but so will the length of their posts.” Work with your community to figure out which behaviors relate to their sense of inclusion and measure those over time.

Patrick and Venia also discuss:

  • Making pronouns part of everyday conversations
  • Twitter’s policies and handling of a recent high-profile deadnaming case
  • Being intentional about your metrics and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)

Big Quotes

Make space for everyone to share their pronouns in everyday conversation (08:48): “Pronouns are not just a segment that you’re going to put on your profile. … At every meeting, [if] you invite people to share their pronouns – cis, trans, doesn’t matter – it essentially says, pervasively speaking, this is a queer-friendly, queer-safe space. … Oftentimes, you want to implement these rules so that you’re not looking for explicit consent, you’re looking for implicit acceptance.” –@SamanthaVenia

Focus on tracking the behaviors that matter most to your community (14:23): “[With behavioral metrics], we need to return to a notion of simplicity, where we are recording things that people actually want us to listen to. When people engage in our online communities, they are leaving behind comments, behaviors, artifacts of conversation, and they want us to pay attention to those things, so why are we recording every single move they make in a community and not recording anything about the nature of the comment they left?” –@SamanthaVenia

Perfectly accurate data reporting does not exist, instead, try replicating your results (18:06): “Instead of worrying about gross amounts of accuracy in your data … [measure] it again. The exact same thing that you did, in a second spot, in a second scope, just do it again, and again, and again. Once you repeat the same process and you have four corollary actions that are all telling you the same thing and one that’s different, what is the resolution of your action? It just skyrocketed without you ever having to be accurate. Social science is not about causation, it’s about enough correlation to infer causation.” –@SamanthaVenia

Keep spaces safe by upholding the commitment to exclusivity (20:50): “Don’t expand what’s working for a safe space because keeping an exclusive space is what made that place safe. Instead, go over to the other place, reproduce your success, diversify it. The phrase that I use is ‘Don’t expand, diversify.’ Exclusivity breeds inclusivity.” –@SamanthaVenia

If you’re creating a space for everyone, you’re creating a space for no one (23:56): “When you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one, and you end up having no one because no one feels particularly special, or catered to, or welcome in those spaces.” –@patrickokeefe

Focus on your role of setting precedent, building momentum (24:59): “I will boil down any community management job from architect, coordinator, moderator, facilitator… it doesn’t matter what you do in community. Your job is to set precedent, to do a thing, then build momentum for that thing until the community is doing it on its own.” –@SamanthaVenia

About Samantha “Venia” Logan

In 2010, Samantha “Venia” Logan transitioned from male to female and shared her entire 10-year journey on YouTube. Over the next decade, that decision snowballed into an active and healthy career in community management, diversity, education, and measurement in anonymous community health. In 2012, Venia founded RESCQU.NET, a nonprofit organization that simultaneously marketed to an invisible audience and catered to their anonymity. In 2017, she graduated with a degree focused on community management and became a full-stack marketer at DigitalMarketer.

For the past five years, Venia has built quantitative and qualitative data measurement tools for brand communities online. Through SociallyConstructed.Online, she is committed to helping businesses build robust, self-sustainable communities.


Your Thoughts

If you have any thoughts on this episode that you’d like to share, please leave me a comment, send me an email or a tweet. If you enjoy the show, we would be so grateful if you spread the word and supported Community Signal on Patreon.

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