The Supreme Court's June 26 ruling on marriage equality seems to be having an impact on social media, as more Americans are embracing Facebook as a tool to publicly identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) than ever.
A new report released last week by Facebook's Research and Data Science division found that roughly 800,000 Americans updated their Facebook profiles to express a same-gender attraction or custom gender in the past year, while fans of LGBT-specific Facebook pages have increased 25 percent.
Facebook's researchers were quick to tie the spike to the national legalization of same-sex marriage in June in their survey. Still, when he launched the LGBT+ Groups of Central Valley group in 2011, Justin Kamimoto said Facebook made perfect sense as a platform well before that.
Kamimoto, 22, who works in digital media and had relocated from California's Bay Area to Fresno before launching the group, told The Huffington Post in an interview that he found Facebook to be an invaluable resource in connecting him and others with like-minded people in the area, which is miles away from the sizable LGBT populations of San Francisco and Los Angeles.
"Many people in the Central Valley do not have access to transportation to be able to visit places like community centers or resource offices," he said. "Facebook is something that you don't need to leave your home for and is a great place to find support and connections."
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Facebook said that groups are a critical component to the site experience, uniting users around a "common goal or issue."
"Empowering people to share their experiences and live openly is central to Facebook's mission to create a more open and connected world," the spokesperson said.
HuffPost Gay Voices has curated a list of 11 Facebook groups that we feel every LGBT person should know. While this is by no means a comprehensive list, the collection represents the diverse range of issues, interests and goals of the LGBT community and its allies.
If we've missed your favorite group, let us know in the comments below!
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