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Today, Aug. 1, is National Girlfriends Day. And while many a male internet persona have used the holiday to celebrate their beloved beau (or lack there of), a cursory glance of the #NationalGirlfriendDay hashtag on Twitter would lead anyone to believe that today’s social media celebration is all about queer pride.
Yep, Twitter’s National Girlfriends Day posts are overwhelmingly celebrating queer women and the women who love them, and the internet cannot get enough. Perusers of the hashtag have tweeted overwhelming praise, congratulations, and thanks to the women for sharing their stories.
When Piper and Naomi, both 17 and from Las Vegas, usually share their photos online, they just get a few retweets and replies from close friends. But on National Girlfriends Day, Piper’s post received much more engagement.
Her favorite reply is from those responding to the photo of her hanging upside down from playground equipment while Naomi kisses her—a friend is holding onto her so she doesn’t fall.
“I’m the friends in the last photo supporting her feet,” several people have commented.
Despite the hashtag’s overwhelming support of queer couples, several dissenters have pushed back against posts such as Piper’s, asserting that National Girlfriends Day is actually about straight, platonic friendships and not relationships. Piper, however, finds the usage outdated and problematic.
“It’s really unsettling that people are getting so angry like that and are trying to call it something just for platonic relationships. Especially considering if it was a straight couple, those people probably wouldn’t be making that argument that it’s a hashtag strictly for platonic relationships,” Piper told the Daily Dot.
For Marisol from Portland, she’s found her post with her girlfriend Emily to be a source of strength and positive representation for her followers. Especially since just yesterday, Marisol’s mother told her that relatives have asked for Marisol to stop posting photos of her and her girlfriend.
“I’ve had people try and invalidate our relationship and our existences by asking questions such as are you actually girlfriends, which feeds into a larger societal trend where same-sex relationships are silenced and, especially for queer women, are reduced to friendships,” Marisol told the Daily Dot. “All in all, the well wishes outnumber the negative comments, and at the end of the day I will never let anyone silence how loudly and proudly we love.”
Krys, 15, and Sasha, 14, are both from Florida and tweeted photos of each other to commemorate the day. Krys says they’re happy to have found such an accepting community that respects and encourages their relationship, and she hopes their posts inspire others to not be afraid to share their love.
“I feel like people being aware and comfortable with sharing their sexualities younger should definitely be more normalized,” Krys said. “I think this generation is a lot more accepting than generations before have been. It’s becoming easier to tell friends and such without getting as much hate for it as it was for some older queer couples that were out at this age.”
For Netherlands-based Nina, 21, the overwhelmingly positive response from Twitter to photos of her and her bisexual girlfriend Nikki, 20, come on the couple’s 17-month anniversary.
“Negativity around queer women is unfortunately something I encounter pretty often, but I don’t let the possibility of negative reactions prevent me from sharing stuff,” Nina told the Daily Dot. “Bisexual people, women specifically, shouldn’t be made to feel excluded from a community they rightfully belong too. Pride is for everyone, not just for gay people!”
Like Piper, Nina too takes issue with the assertion that National Girlfriends Day is about female friendship, and finds that straight women using the term “girlfriends” to describe other female friends to be awkward—at the least for queer women who use the term to describe their significant others.
“The platonic use of the word ensures that queer women aren’t taken seriously when they mention their girlfriends, because straight people assume they’re talking about their female friend, not romantic partner, which means they have to explain and put emphasis on the romantic part and explicitly out themselves in a situation that maybe doesn’t call for that at all,” Nina said. “This, of course, isn’t necessarily a very big problem, but it’s pretty annoying if it keeps happening, and if the straight woman is, in fact, homophobic it can lead to some pretty awkward encounters.”
Anna, 17, from the U.K., told the Daily Dot that the positive responses to the post of her and her girlfriend Beth, 17, made her feel accepted and gave her a sense of normality.
“It gives us hope for the future, and that maybe homophobia will be a thing of the past soon,” Anna said.
Amanda, 20, also found it “refreshing” to get so many positive responses from her old high school friends to her photo with her girlfriend Chandler, 19. Prior to her post, the University of North Carolina Wilmington student was out at school but hadn’t come out to her older friends, and being that her mother hasn’t accepted her as queer, she was hesitant to share their photos at first.
Chandler, though, is the first person she’s openly called her girlfriend online, something she finds extremely valuable for a relationship to thrive.
“At this point, I want to be able to show off my amazing girlfriend and not care about any outside opinions,” Amanda told the Daily Dot. “It’s all about being sure that your partner knows that they are the only one in your life and that you aren’t afraid to tell the world about it. I know, personally, I feel more validated and more important if everyone in her life knows about me. Even though relationships in the [LGBTQ] community are often frowned upon, she makes me smile, and that, to me, is worth more than anything else in this world.”
Cici and her fiancee Lucero, both 19, from Scottsdale, Arizona, didn’t find it too important to share their previous relationships online. However, today it’s a different story—Cici feels Lucero is the best thing to happen to her.
“Love comes at the most unexpected times with the most unexpected people and no matter how old you are, you’ll always know when you find the one that’s perfect for you,” Cici told the Daily Dot.
For Emily, 17 and from the U.K., the viral photos of her and her girlfriend are about spreading awareness and acceptance. While the couple isn’t out completely, Emily told the Daily Dot that the people who know them often come out to them since the couple’s online presence has allowed others to be more comfortable and unapologetic about their sexualities.
“I’ve used my own experiences to inform people about stuff that goes slightly overlooked such as coming out, dealing with hurtful comments, how you know it’s the time to come out, etc,” Emily told the Daily Dot. “Social media is so vital for this generation to spread awareness for minority groups and if done in a healthy way it can be such a good tool for the LGBTQ community to find support and others like them.”
Shane, 20 and from the U.K., told the Daily Dot that she just wanted to show off her girlfriend Carmen on social media. The couple also wanted to let mutual friends know they’re in a happy, serious relationship—their first with a woman since they’ve both come out (Shane as bisexual and Carmen as a lesbian).
However, for queer folks who haven’t come out, be it from fear of backlash or a trepidation to accept that part of themselves, Shane stresses that it’s OK to take your time and be patient with your own emotions. While it’s one thing to see such amazing queer representation, especially within the context of National Girlfriends Day, Shane says there’s no better way to spend time than to learn to love that part of yourself.
“It will not happen over night, it’s most definitely a long process (I don’t speak for everyone, but my process was long), and also to remember that your happiness ALWAYS comes first, you are completely valid and important. You matter and so does your voice!” Shane said. “You also shouldn’t feel pressure to label yourself—unless that’s something you identify with, as sexuality is fluid. As long as you know who you are, within yourself, that’s all that truly matters.”
Samantha Grasso is a former IRL staff writer for the Daily Dot with a reporting emphasis on immigration. Her work has appeared on Los Angeles Magazine, Death And Taxes, Revelist, Texts From Last Night, Austin Monthly, and she has previously contributed to Texas Monthly.