Queer (Cyber)Spaces: Representations of Queer Subjectivities in Queer Digital Communities
In this thesis, I explore how online citizenship is shaped through software and site interfaces and how this impacts the staging and (re)presentations of queer identities online. I begin by discussing popular constructions of cyberspaces and the techno/human divide arguing for a more concrete discussion of "the machine." I trace the development of computer technology in the United States and pause to consider the impact of neocolonial practices embedded in, for example, the structure of source code, and the political implications of search engines and their data organization analytics. I then examine how the It Gets Better Project, a non-profit site addressing the issue of queer youth suicide, polices queer citizenship and its unproductive insistence on the (re)presentation of happy, queer bodies. I also examine the informational video logs created by a transmale user on YouTube as he documents his transitional process over the course of nearly 5 years. I continue to explore the politics of the site structure, reflect on the role that confessional-style vlogs play in the history of trans-visibility in the U.S., and consider how the participatory nature of YouTube shapes these representations. The overall purpose of this study is to engage an intersectional analysis as a means of exploring the dense layers of interaction in queer digital communities while examining queer self-representations mediated through video logs.