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!
Queer North America Rideshare
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This group is designed to connect queer travelers to one another in hopes that we can build a solid network of LGBTQI-friendly rideshare opportunities throughout the US, Canada & Mexico. It currently has over over 6,900 members.
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With over 4,500 members, this group is for transgender people in general, trans-oriented individuals, their friends and people who love them. It's a place for these individuals to meet, to chat, to have fun with respect, to open up, to be heard, to gather, to find a date, soulmate or life partner or to simply connect with each other.
LGBT Real Talk Radio
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This group is a communication focal point for the lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual community. With over 2,300 members at present, it's a safe and free environment that promotes unity among our community, education, awareness, and a common connection for all members.
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This is a group set up as a safe forum for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, and their allies. Organizers aim to make all people from the LGBT community and their allies to feel safe and welcome. It currently has over 12,900 members.
GLBT Writers and Readers
Gonzalo Fuentes / Reuters
GLBT Writers and Readers aim to offer support and encouragement for all GLBT writers, whether they are published or not, and for all GLBT readers. Here, the group's more than 8,600 members can ask and answer questions about writing, publishing, and reading as well as have general discussions.
Marko Djurica / Reuters
This group, which currently has over 5,600 members, is intended as a safe space for members of the trans community and its supporters/allies.
Marko Djurica / Reuters
This group is intended to be a place where individuals can interact and discuss anything as related to a business or professional nature as well as true professional networking. Currently has over 14,400 members.
Parents Of Transgender Children
Edgard Garrido / Reuters
This group, which currently has 2,700+ members, supports parents of transgender children, gender-variant children and any child about whom a parent is "gender" concerned. They help, advise, encourage and support each other. They also host an additional group, Allies of Transgender Children, for supportive family members and friends.
Lesbian TTC, Pregnancy and Parenting
Andrea Comas / Reuters
This is a private place where we can discuss the ups and downs of TTC (trying to conceive), pregnancy and everything in between from the lesbian perspective. The group, which currently has over 1,200 members, is closed. Only members can see posts.
Andrea Comas / Reuters
Over 1,400 members have joined this page, which is for men and women who love CrossFit, and who happen to be members or allies of the LGBT community.
LGBT Pride Support
Guadalupe Pardo / Reuters
With over 6,000 members, this group was created for LGBT support, and for people to get things off their mind and make new friends.