Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2018

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Polly McLean

Second Advisor

Stewart Hoover

Third Advisor

Kathleen Ryan

Fourth Advisor

Kwame Holmes

Fifth Advisor

Celeste Montoya

Abstract

As a marginalized community in the United States, LGBTQ individuals occupy a precarious space within society. They are afforded representation in some venues, however are often invisible. Through using social media, LGBTQ individuals have sought new ways to forge a community and increase their visibility. With this increase in visibility, there has been an increased way for individuals to both seek out and distribute information to help in the coming out process. After the election of Donald Trump and Mike Pence, social media became a hotbed of activity for LGBTQ individuals trying to raise awareness about issues that affect them specifically. Combining archival research, observation, interviews, and visual discourse analysis of social media feeds, this dissertation sheds light on the role social media plays in expressions of LGBTQ politics, culture, and coming out. Despite not being fundamentally changed, the increased access to LGBTQ stories have amplified the messages that are able to be sent. This has both been positive in acting as interventions in the issues of LGBTQ suicide rates, hate crimes, and discrimination from outside. Unfortunately, social media has also re-centered and prioritized white, cisgender, masculinity, obscuring other stories and creating potentially dangerous environments for women, trans* individuals, and gay men who do not meet this high standard of masculinity.

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