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“I never had to say anything”: 
Examining the transformative 
potential of Facebook for 
sexual identity disclosures 
Stef...
“gender rebels” 
“trans people are just people too, and 
deserve to be happy.” 
(Bailey, 2013)
1950s – 1970s 
Homophile 
movement 
1969/1970s 
Stonewall & 
Gay Liberation 
1970s-1980s 
Identity Politics/ 
Minority mov...
Are we 
“post-gay” or 
homonormative? 
Image from David Goehring 
a. Define oneself by more than 
sexuality; 
b. Disentang...
Is Facebook like moving out of the gay 
village and to the suburbs? 
Does this allow for people to be post-gay? 
Or do the...
“Queer people exist whether or not you tell them they 
can in a Catholic high school.” 
“It just stops the concern for me ...
“[Facebook] is a really good tool for me to broadcast that I am 
gay to people who I would never feel like coming out to i...
“For example, if I sat down with a lot of people that I 
didn’t know that well and there was an advert that had 
gay peopl...
“I don’t think there’s really an option that describes accurately 
how I feel.” – Mackenzie 
“[My city] is not a metropoli...
Post-gay aspirations + heteronormative constraints = mostly 
homonormativity 
Facebook helps some, but it is not transform...
References 
Bailey, K. (2013). Essay: Coming out in a single click. Facebook Stories. Retrieved June 22, 2013, from 
http:...
Johnson, E. P., & Henderson, M. G. (2005). Introduction: Queering Black Studies/“Quaring” Queer Studies. In 
E. P. Johnson...
Questions? stefanie.duguay@qut.edu.au 
stefanieduguay.com 
@DugStef
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“I never had to say anything”: Examining the transformative potential of Facebook for sexual identity disclosures

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These are the slides for my presentation at the Brisbane ICA Regional Conference, October 2, 2014. The presentation examines whether or not Facebook can transform the process of LGBTQ people coming out and being 'out' in their everyday lives. For more info on the conference: http://icabrisbane2014.com/

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“I never had to say anything”: Examining the transformative potential of Facebook for sexual identity disclosures

  1. 1. “I never had to say anything”: Examining the transformative potential of Facebook for sexual identity disclosures Stefanie Duguay, PhD Student, Digital Media Studies, @DugStef Creative Industries Faculty, Queensland University of Technology Presentation for the ICA Regional Conference, Brisbane, 2 October 2014
  2. 2. “gender rebels” “trans people are just people too, and deserve to be happy.” (Bailey, 2013)
  3. 3. 1950s – 1970s Homophile movement 1969/1970s Stonewall & Gay Liberation 1970s-1980s Identity Politics/ Minority movements Late 1980s – 1990s Queer activism & Queer Theory (Beasley, 2005) Image from David Prasad
  4. 4. Are we “post-gay” or homonormative? Image from David Goehring a. Define oneself by more than sexuality; b. Disentangle gayness from struggle (and stereotypes); c. Enjoy sexually mixed company. (Ghaziani, 2011)
  5. 5. Is Facebook like moving out of the gay village and to the suburbs? Does this allow for people to be post-gay? Or do they blend in in homonormative ways? Image from Douglas Muth
  6. 6. “Queer people exist whether or not you tell them they can in a Catholic high school.” “It just stops the concern for me that when I go home and hang out with these people they’ll be like, ‘Why didn’t you tell us this earlier?’ It’s such a silly thing because how would you contact all of these people that you don’t really keep in touch with across the country and be like, ‘Hi, just checking in, I’m gay.’ You wouldn’t do that.” “The situations where everyone’s talking about their romantic life and I feel like I’m being burdensome…Everyone has to pause and be like, ‘Oh, you’re queer.’ Like, do we have to have a session about it? People don’t know what to do and so, yeah, I wanted to say it and stop having that fear.” Queer Post-gay Homonormative Image from Mononc’ Paul
  7. 7. “[Facebook] is a really good tool for me to broadcast that I am gay to people who I would never feel like coming out to in real life… I don’t want to run the risk of having a confrontation in real life so if I have it on Facebook, they can take it in, deal with it themselves and then it’s over and done with and I never had to say anything.” - Robert “It's easier than telling everyone separately - not that everyone, like, I couldn't rely on everyone checking that kind of thing, because obviously my friends know my birthday and my gender and all the other things on that page. So I couldn't rely on them checking it but just in case they did, it was there.” - Brianne
  8. 8. “For example, if I sat down with a lot of people that I didn’t know that well and there was an advert that had gay people in it but they were like, I don’t know, drinking Diet Coke together or something then I wouldn’t feel that uncomfortable about it. And then if it was about gay people being political, I would feel more uncomfortable about it, and then if it was gay people having sex, I’d probably be feeling more uncomfortable.” - Henrik “If I were face-to-face, I probably wouldn’t have done it… I would have just said it to myself several times and then nothing would have actually [come out].” – Jennifer Image from Michael_Goff
  9. 9. “I don’t think there’s really an option that describes accurately how I feel.” – Mackenzie “[My city] is not a metropolis but I came from a very small part of the world and suddenly I could really, really enjoy being gay.” - Elizabeth “[For Italians] the message that passes is like, ‘You are gay, keep it for yourself.’” – Marco “When I found out you could block some people I was just like, oh okay, I can put it up now.” - Erin Sexuality Location Culture Digital literacy Image from Jason Pier in DC
  10. 10. Post-gay aspirations + heteronormative constraints = mostly homonormativity Facebook helps some, but it is not transformative because we have not transformed society’s heteronormativity. Image from Scorpions and Centaurs
  11. 11. References Bailey, K. (2013). Essay: Coming out in a single click. Facebook Stories. Retrieved June 22, 2013, from http://www.facebookstories.com/stories/3790/essay-coming-out-in-a-single-click Beasley, C. (2005). Gender & sexuality: Critical theories, critical thinkers. London: Sage. Berlant, L., & Warner, M. (1998). Sex in public. Critical Inquiry, 24(2), 547–566. boyd, d. (2011). Social network sites as networked publics: Affordances, dynamics, and implications. In Z. Papacharissi (Ed.), A Networked Self: Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Network Sites (pp. 39–58). New York and London: Routledge. boyd, d. (2014). It’s complicated: The social lives of networked teens. New Haven, CT and London: Yale University Press. Butler, J. (1990). Gender trouble: Feminism and the subversion of identity. New York: Routledge. Castells, M. (2009). Communication power. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Coleman-Fountain, E. (2014). Lesbian and gay youth and the question of labels. Sexualities, 17(7), 802–817. doi:10.1177/1363460714531432 Collard, J. (1998, August 17). Leaving the gay ghetto. Newsweek. Duggan, L. (2002). The new homonormativity: The sexual politics of neoliberalism. In R. Castronovo & D. D. Nelson (Eds.), Materializing democracy: Toward a revitalized culture politics (pp. 175–194). Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Duguay, S. (2014). “He has a way gayer Facebook than I do”: Investigating sexual identity disclosure and context collapse on a social networking site. New Media & Society. doi:10.1177/1461444814549930 Foucault, M. (1979). The history of sexuality, Vol. 1: An introduction. London: Allen Lane. Foucault, M. (2014). Wrong-doing, truth-telling: The function of avowal in justice. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Ghaziani, A. (2011). Post-Gay Collective Identity Construction. Social Problems, 58(1), 99–125. doi:10.1525/sp.2011.58.1.99.100 Gould, D. B. (2009). Moving politics: Emotion and ACT UP’s fight against AIDS Chicago: Chicago University Press. Hayward, M. (2013). ATMs, telepromters and photobooths: A short history of neoliberal optics. New Formations: A Journal of Culture/Theory/Politics, 80-81, 194–208. doi:10.3898/NEWF.80/81.11.2013 Jagose, A. (1996). Queer theory: An introduction. New York: New York University Press. Image from Barron Webster
  12. 12. Johnson, E. P., & Henderson, M. G. (2005). Introduction: Queering Black Studies/“Quaring” Queer Studies. In E. P. Johnson & M. G. Henderson (Eds.), Black Queer Studies: A Critical Anthology (pp. 1–20). Durham and London: Duke University Press. Johnston, L. (2005). Queering tourism: Paradoxical performances at gay pride parades. Abingdon: Routledge. Kohut, A. (2013). The global divide on homosexuality. Retrieved from http://www.pewglobal.org/2013/06/04/the-global-divide-on-homosexuality/ Nash, C. J. (2013). The age of the “post-mo”? Toronto’s gay Village and a new generation. Geoforum, 49, 243– 252. doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2012.11.023 Richardson, D. (2005). Desiring sameness? The rise of a neoliberal politics of normalisation. Antipode, 37(3), 515–535. doi:10.1111/j.0066-4812.2005.00509.x Rose, G. (2012). Visual methodologies: An introduction to the interpretation of visual methods [3rd Edition]. London: Sage. Seidman, S. (1994). Queer-ing sociology, sociologizing queer theory: An introduction. Sociological Theory, 12(2), 166–177. Seidman, S. (2002). Beyond the closet: The transformation of gay and lesbian life. New York: Routledge. Seidman, S., Meeks, C., & Traschen, F. (2004). Beyond the closet? The changing social meaning of homosexuality in the United States. In M. S. Kimmel & R. F. Plante (Eds.), Sexualities: Identities, behaviors, and society (pp. 184–199). New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press. Slagle, R. A. (1995). In defense of queer nation: From identity politics to a politics of difference. Western Journal of Communication, 59(2), 85–102. doi:10.1080/10570319509374510 Strauss, A. L., & Corbin, J. M. (1998). Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory. eBook: Sage Publications. Sullivan, A. (2005, October 24). The end of gay culture: Assimilation and its meaning. The New Republic. Retrieved from http://www.newrepublic.com/article/politics/the-end-gay-culture Warner, M. (2002). Publics and counterpublics. Brooklyn, NY: Zone Books. Zhao, X., Salehi, N., Naranjit, S., Alwaalan, S., Voida, S., & Cosley, D. (2013). The many faces of Facebook: Experiencing social media as performance, exhibition, and personal archive. CHI’13, April 27-M.
  13. 13. Questions? stefanie.duguay@qut.edu.au stefanieduguay.com @DugStef

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