This is the evolution of a Twitter trend.
On the lazy Friday before a three-day weekend for most Americans, something kind of awesome happened on Twitter. The popular micro-blogging site better known for its often mundane reports on people’s lunches went totally yay for gay.
In the span of just five hours, the hashtag #yaygay went from non-existent to the No. 1 trending topic. Why? Well, we have our very own AfterEllen.com blogger TheLinster to thank for the idea. She started the hashtag (a searchable keyword/phrase proceeded by a # sign on Twitter) after seeing the considerably less yay-worthy trending topic #uknowhowiknowuregay make it to No. 1 Friday afternoon.
The oh-so charming topic, an attempted abbreviation of the phrase “you know how I know you are gay,” was started by the rapper Fabolous. Spelling really isn’t his strong suit. This, predictably, led to a slew of homophobic “jokes” that were largely offensive and entirely unfunny to anyone with a sense of humor above that of a 4-year-old — and that’s being uncharitable to the 4-year-old.
And so began a tutorial on the power of Twitter, a good idea and a bunch of angry gays.
Like a global phone tree, #yaygay started to make its way through the ranks. Within minutes several of TheLinster’s friends, myself included, retweeted it and then their friends retweeted it and then their friends of friends retweeted it and so on and so gay.
Now, anyone who follows Twitter’s trending topics — the most tweeted words or phrases at any given moments — knows they can be equal parts illuminating, mystifying and stupefying.
Historic and newsworthy events often make the homepage (which shows the Top 5) or the feedpage sidebar (which shows the Top 10). But other times it’s filled with things like #thankheavenforkevin (a tribute to a Jonas brother), #chrisbrownsbowtie (jokes about Chris Brown’s Larry King Live appearance) and #liesgirlstell (pure misogynistic drivel).
Still, it can also be used as a tool, like it was with #yaygay, to combat perceived injustices. As the saying goes, don’t get mad, get even.
So, the #yaygay twitter tree continued. And as it grew it got tweeted by more and more people, including some famous assist from the likes of frequent The Rachel Maddow Show contributor Ana Marie Cox, who took time out of throwing up before her first time of guest hosting for Rachel to retweet the hashtag.
Tracking the #yaygay revolution Friday afternoon was, I’m not even going to like, totally thrilling. The prospect of getting #yaygay to trend went from a pipe dream to cautious reality.
At one point we were fighting two homophobic trending topics: #uknowhowiknowuregay and the slightly less illiterate #uknowhowiknowurgay. Those, thankfully, dropped off the trending pages after the #yaygay campaign began. Then, four hours after our Linster started it all, #yaygay made it into the Top 10 and was trending.
But, it didn’t stop there. One short hour later it had knocked off Jay-Z, the ’90s, Labor Day and — yes — even the reigning end-of-the-week trending topic king Follow Friday on its way to No. 1.
Look, I’m not going to pretend this is more than what it was – a fun exercise in superficial activism. It’s not like getting #yaygay to No. 1 means that tomorrow we will all have the right to get married or serve out in the military or not be hated by strangers just because of who we happen to love.
But it is still a small, yet significant, sign of community. In a world where we often feel impotent against the injustices we see, it’s undeniably satisfying to see strangers band together to both combat homophobia and celebrate our lives.
The joy was short-lived as #yaygay dropped off trending topics altogether less than 45 minutes later. It’s unclear whether people just stopped tweeting because the mission was accomplished or Twitter decided to pull the topic for perceived controversial material.
But its disappearance doesn’t diminish the accomplishment. If only for an afternoon, the gays and their allies took over Twitter. Now that is something to yay about. So #bringbackyaygay, anyone?