new publication: LGBTQ+ communities and far right social media
I’m pleased to share that a study I contributed to—Gayservatives on Gab: LGBTQ+ Communities and Far Right Social Media—is now available (open-access!) through the Social Media + Society journal. Dr. Evan Brody is the lead author on the study, and we were lucky enough to have support from PhD student Mehroz Sajjad. Here’s the abstract for the study:
In the United States, LGBTQ+ individuals are often imagined as inherently politically progressive, but this assumption overlooks the experiences of self-identified LGBTQ+ conservatives. Likewise, although social media platforms are recognized as spaces of identity and community production for LGBTQ+ people generally, less work has considered how they provide a similar forum for “gayservatives.” In response, this article engages in a critical discourse analysis of LGBTQ+-oriented groups on the far right social media platform Gab. Results indicate that far right social media is utilized to connect with other politically similar LGBTQ+ individuals perceived to be absent in one’s offline community. Participants do so via discourses that both regulate and celebrate LGBTQ+ identities, particularly as it relates to hegemonic masculinity. These strategies generally reinforce, but at times reframe, stereotypical narratives about LGBTQ+ individuals. This study provides groundwork for more nuanced understandings of both LGBTQ+ conservatives and the ways power is socialized and embodied through discourses about sexual and gender identities.
This is perhaps the most compelling example yet of the multidisciplinary approach to research that I’ve been able to follow since joining the School of Information Science at the University of Kentucky. It certainly wasn’t the kind of research I expected to do when I started a PhD program in Educational Psychology and Educational Technology in 2013, but it was the kind of work I was hoping to expand into when I joined my current unit. Over the past five years, I’ve been lucky enough to make internet research my starting point and start contributing to projects outside of the education literature. I began reading up on the online far right a few years ago as part of my research into online Mormonism, and while I can’t say it’s as “fun” as some of the other research I’ve done, I wanted to put my increasing familiarity with that literature into practice as much as I could.
Evan and I are both in UK’s College of Communication and Information, and this opportunity to continue work related to the online far right came up when we met at a college research networking event. Evan’s expertise in queer theory and critical discourse analysis matched nicely here with the literature I’d been reading and with my experience with collecting digital data. We were lucky enough to get some internal funding, which let us bring Mehroz into the picture, who has been a huge help. I’m very happy with this paper, and I’m excited to see where a second paper that came out of this data will go (it’s focused on explicit queerphobia in Gab groups and is currently under review).
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