LGBTQ+ Communities and Digital Media

Paul Byron, Sab D’Souza and I contributed this chapter to the The Oxford Handbook of Sociology and Digital Media, edited by Deana A. Rohlinger and Sarah Sobieraj:

LGBTQ+ Communities and Digital Media

Digital media offer spaces to many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people (LGBTQ+) for connection, support, and friendship and hosts vital resources for learning and practicing diverse genders and sexualities. In this chapter, the authors review key research on LGBTQ+ communities and identities in digital spaces over several decades, dividing the chapter into three main sections: (1) community and connection, (2) romance and dating, and (3) identity work. In the first section on community and connection, they examine research centered on how LGBTQ+ people use digital media to forge connections and build “communities.” While this term is contested in the literature, many LGBTQ+ people use it to describe their experiences of digital networks. Second, they outline the growing body of research on how LGBTQ+ people use digital media in their romantic and sexual lives, from dating/hook-up apps to social media. They consider the challenges, pleasures, and opportunities in how LGBTQ+ people use digital media for sex and dating practices and potential. Third, they reflect on how these connections have figured into ongoing research on LGBTQ+ identities, where digital media allow LGBTQ+ people to develop shared languages to describe their experiences, to reflect on their lives, and to rehearse modes of self-representation.

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