Tag Archives: sextivism

Concluding…for the moment.

Reading about queer online space has been really interesting for me. There’s a lot written out there about how—mostly about lgb folks but sometimes trans* folks—use the internet to build community. There’s been some stuff said about how you could create online communities that could translate into offline communities. You could make friends online and then you could transfer those over into what people tend to refer to as “real life relationships.” The thing that I don’t see, or that I have come across, is an academic analysis of ways in which the internet helps you create your identity. I definitely did not come into this research with a full understanding of the process I was going through, nor did I realize how personal my research would become to me. But, like it or not, I got to know people, through the internet. I know everything about them. I know about their struggles; I know about their successes; I know about their likes and dislikes; I know about their relationships. In fact, they probably know about mine if they’re following me. I’ve gotten to know all these people in a very unique way and I’ve taken things from them that I feel have been incorporated into my identity. That is something I certainly haven’t seen explored in an academic setting.

My conclusions for this project are as follows: Queer online space is a radical, fabulous fucking space that deserves attention and deserves excitement. I don’t really know who it deserves to get those things from, because the people involved in the space know how valuable it is. They are the ones who make it valuable. So the question becomes, do I really want academia to care about this? I don’t know. In a way, I feel like maybe they would ruin it. There is so much more to be explored in terms of identity and the intersections of race and class, gender, sexuality, ability, and many other things. I’m definitely not done looking. I’m not done searching. I’m not done absorbing. I’m not done learning. I’m not done enjoying…and I certainly have a lot left to learn. Thank you for reading.


Analyze This

So, what does online queer space give you? It gives you solidarity. It gives you a liberating sexual space. It gives you a place to record your thoughts without the fear of being judged and on the off chance that you are judged—because, the truth is, you probably will be because it’s public—it gives you a community base of people who will defend you. A group of people that you can trust will respect your opinions even if they don’t agree with them. It gives you a place to experiment with identities, expressions, pronouns, that you might not yet be comfortable with in your day-to-day life or that you might never be comfortable using in your day-to-day life. Regardless, it gives you a place to exercise that total freedom of being able to say and do and wear and be whatever you are. Or whatever you feel that day. It gives you a network, a community, a family of sorts. It gives you an emotional and a mental place to go–somewhere to go that could be a protective space or an empowering space or both. It could be an escape or it could be someplace that you consciously decide to go because it feels liberating to you.

Over the past couple of months I have scoured the internet for sources to post here to meet the parameters of a particular class assignment. I’ve analyzed theoretical and academic sources, news articles, blogs, video projects, and sex-ed material. I’ve told you the facts and I’ve told you opinions. This post brings my academic exploration to a temporary conclusion, but the questions I’ve presented to myself and to you have no conclusion. That’s what’s so great about them. Keep asking, keep answering, keep checking back. Meaning is evolutionary, and this is just the beginning of my evolution.


Loving Oneself: And Scaring the Crap Out of People Who Don’t

The last theme I want to address in queer online community participation is the act of getting to know oneself through participation online. I want to start by giving you an excerpt from a Tumblr post I reblogged a while back from a beautiful person I won’t name here (for privacy reasons).

“I’ve been watching silently as [my picture] is reblogged over and over, feeling a mix of annoyance and confusion. The funny thing is that the one thing I have not felt during this time is ugly. I keep coming back to the picture trying to understand what there is to mock about it and each time I find nothing. Each time I look,  I feel exactly the way I felt when I first posted it, cute. That is a victory for me because in the not too distant past, I would have been devastated by this” (Anonymous Tumblr post).

The person who wrote this post uploaded a picture of themselves on a particularly cute-feeling day and was subjected to ridicule by other users on Tumblr. I have to admit, I get upset if I post a picture and no one bothers to like it, so I have endless respect for the bravery and tough-skin of this particular person. After seeing this, another group within the blog community took up that same photo and praised this person for their confidence, beauty, and unabashed self-love. Self-love is not something we often talk about in a positive context. How much time should we really dedicate to getting to know ourselves and understanding our own personalities, appearances, and desires?

Way back in 1939, Philosopher Eric Fromm wrote:

“Modern culture is pervaded by a taboo on selfishness. It teaches that to be selfish is sinful, and to love others is virtuous” (Fromm 1).

The question I present to you, my dear blog-istas, is this: If we love ourselves, does it increase our ability to love others? If we enjoy our our own presence and know the depths of our own identities, what is the affect on the people we hold dear? Let me know if you figure that out.

Works Cited:

Fromm, Eric. “Selfishness and Self-love.” Psychiatry: Journal for the Study of Interpersonal Process 2 (1939): 507-23. Web. 20 Apr. 2012. <http://erich-fromm.de/biophil/en/images/stories/pdf-Dateien/1939b-e.pdf&gt;.


Making Connections

Another theme I’ve drawn out of the queer-o-sphere over the course of this semester is one of personal connections. The web allows queer people to meet one another virtually and physically, foster relationships, and find meaningful connections with folks that might not be accessible were it not for the interwebz. As an example, I’d like to introduce you to a YouTube channel I’ve been frequenting for about three years called TMatesFTM. TMates is a daily vlog channel where partners of FTM (female-to-male) trans* folks talk about their experiences, their relationships, their trials and tribulations, etc. The channel description says it all:

“This is a place for support and a place to feel like you belong” (Youtube.com/TMatesFTM).

In one particularly grainy video, Jackie introduces her boyfriend Rok. She says, “We met on Facebook.” Rok jumps in, “You were commenting on Nate’s picture and then I said something…you added me.” Jackie laughs, “We were talking on MSN? Or Skype or something? …and then we just got to know each other like that” (Youtube.com/TMatesFTM).

In her piece, “Studying Online Love and Cyber Romance,” Nicole Doring writes:

“The fact that people fall in love on the net, and truly experience deep feelings during the course of their cyber-romance, has been demonstrated too often to still be denied. Nevertheless, it is often doubted that genuine love relationships exist on the net. How can it be possible to lead a close, intimate relationship if partipants are only there for each other primarily via their computer-mediated messages?” (Doring 3)

Denial of personal connection despite physical proximity plagues queer folks who find friendship, love, and sexual connection online (Doring 7), but couples like Jackie and Rok dispute claims that the internet isn’t a place of substantial connection. Andrew from qcsms says meeting someone on Tumblr nowadays is no different from seeing someone on the subway.

“I think that social media connects you with a lot of people…I’ve embraced technology as a way to meet people and as a way to engage in relations with people. If we’re speaking in the biblical sense, I’ve gotten to know people through social media…it’s perfectly fine” (qcsms.tumblr.com).

We know it’s possible to find reflections of ourselves, seek advice, read stories, and express ourselves freely, but it seems the queer web also provides opportunity for physical, “true life” connections. Whether in eventually in person or forever cyber-based.

Work Cited:

Doring, Nicole. “Studying Online Love and Cyber Romance.” 2002. Web. 20 Apr. 2012. <http://www.nicola-doering.de/publications/cyberlove_doering_2002.pdf&gt;.

“TMates.” TMatesFTM. YouTube. Web. 20 Apr. 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/user/TMatesFTM?feature=watch&gt;.


Heavy Petting

Now, because I am such a fan of Jessica and Majestic, I’m going to start of this next theme section by talking about them again. Are you surprised? Didn’t think so. Another grandiose theme I have discovered in my endless creeping of the queer web is very sexual. It’s sexy. It’s sextastic. It’s sex. Now, I’m not really talking about porn. The prevalence of internet porn is dramatic and interesting (for more info, check out these infographics), but what I’m talking about is a second tier of solidarity in a way: Sexual solidarity created through imagery and advice. The internet is a place where we find out how weird we are (sexually and otherwise) and that it’s actually okay.

The Luxery-Legays, as well as others who I will link at the bottom of this post, are independent queer sex educators who provide images, experiences, and advice to help people along in their process of sexual self-realization. They write:

“As heavy petters, we believe that people should be able to access funny, relevant, helpful, non-judgmental and supportive information that has the potential to enrich their lives, relationships and sexcapades” (heavypettingtalktv.tumblr.com).

Jessica and Majestic proclaim that they are sick of standing by while sex-educators miss the mark on queer sexuality and relationships. They believe it’s time for people to take sex-ed into their own hands and show those looking how radical, educational, and pleasurable sex can be. In his book “The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life,” Michael Warner writes the following.

“The culture has thousands of ways for people to govern the sex of others–and not just harmful, coercive sex, like rape, but the most personal dimensions of pleasure, identity, and practice. We do this directly, through prohibition and regulation, and indirectly, by embracing one identity or one set of tastes, as though they were universally shared, or should be” (Warner 2).

Queer online sex educators like Jessica and Majestic go against such normative sex discourses to empower their audience on such topics as fisting, scissoring and submission, and self love.

They get how cool they are.

Below are some other queer online sex-ed resources to check out. The best part of this whole theme is–if you don’t see what you want, you can publish it yourself. No, but seriously, do it. And send me the link.

http://queersexed.tumblr.com/ 

http://queerporn.tv/wp/free-queer-how-to-porn-sex-ed

http://www.youtube.com/user/QueerFAQtor

Works Cited:

“HEAVY PETTING.” HEAVY PETTING. Web. 20 Apr. 2012. <http://heavypettingtalktv.tumblr.com/&gt;.

Warner, Michael. The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life. New York: Free, 1999. Print.

Image Credit:

Weird Bird: http://bit.ly/JlqgP1

Jessica and Majestic: http://heavypettingtalktv.tumblr.com/


Glitterpolitic

Joseph Variscos documentary project really got me thinking about the places online where I started to notice myself. What were the spaces where I first saw my reflection or started to gain an idea of what I could be, what I am, what I want to be? One of those spaces is Glitterpolitic. Anyone who knows me well will be able to tell you about my quiet fandom of Jessica Luxury and Majestic Legay. Jessica and Majestic are a couple of queers who met on the internet, fell in love, made a nest together across international borders, got married, and educate myself and tons of other queers every day about sex, beauty, fashion, gender, and overall queerness. My first introduction to this dynamic duo was through Majestic’s collaborative blog, Glitterpolitic.

thnx glitterpolitic

I can’t describe the blog any better than Majestic and co-author, Ashley Aron.

“Glitter Politic is self-love blown open.

Glitter is a beautiful external reflection of the brightest, most powerful light that shines inside each one of us. In a world that makes hating yourself and others so easy and available, embodying a radical politic of glitter is challenging. By doing so, we accept and perpetuate the radical notion that there is enough room for all of us to shine. We believe that by nurturing an ethic of compassion, kindness, and bad-ass love for ourselves, we can create space in our communities where that love is not a limited resource. Glitter politic means supporting, encouraging, and making visible the multifaceted ways in which we present, resist, and survive within our communities. Glitter politic means banishing the normative, oppressive, patriarchal, capitalist, imperialist ideology that the world isn’t big enough for all of our bodies, ideas, and voices” (glitterpolitic.tumblr.com).

On the blog, Majestic and Ashley answer questions, tell stories, communicate, create, and catalog the meanings of body love, femininity, masculinity, and queer space/identities have in their lives. In sharing this blog with you, I want to make a point about the importance of solidarity. Remember way back at the beginning when I decided I wanted to discover the meanings queer folks find online? Solidarity is a huge one. Solidarity is the degree to which people integrate with others who share aspects of identity in groups. In essence, solidarity describes what ties people together. What are the bridges and bindings that allow us to feel a sense of community? (Jary and Jary 621) Much like what I did when I declared us all queer back in the very beginning, Glitterpolitic creates an atmosphere that allows queer people to seek connection by identifying with the experiences of others. (Are you hearing framing here?)

xxnova writes in to the blog saying:

“thank you so very much for this tumblr. It has made me infinitely more comfortable with my gender identity & body image. Please continue doling out generous servings of wonderful” (glitterpolitic.tumblr.com).

The power of solidarity comes from understanding, commonality, difference, and dissent. It comes from support. It comes from radical honesty and self-evaluation. For this queer (and many others from what I can gather), the internet is dripping with solidarity. This is just one example of where those drops gather.

Works Cited:

Jary, David, and Julia Jary. Collins Dictionary of Sociology. Glasgow: Harper Collins, 1991. Print.

Majestic, Legay and Ashley Aron. “GLITTER POLITIC.” GLITTER POLITIC. Web. 20 Apr. 2012. <http://glitterpolitic.tumblr.com/&gt;.

Image Credit: 

Glitterpolitic: glitterpolitic.tumblr.com


Ever have a moment…

…when you’re doing research and you find the one thing that exemplifies every argument you’ve been trying to make and sums it all up perfectly and you’re like OMGOMGOMGOMGYESTHISISAMAZING and then….you realize that it kind of makes you seem irrelevant…? Well. It’s too good not to share so check this out.

Now, having watched that and hopefully agreeing with me about it’s off-the-chart level of cool, I hope you are interested in learning more. This is a project, started by Deputyjoev or Joseph Varisco, where queers from all over submit videos of themselves talking about the role of social media in their lives (qcsms.tumblr.com).Varisco introduces each video with a version of the same intro line…

“Vincent [or Helios or Colin or Grace] is a queer individual who uses the internet…and has something to say” (qcsms.tumblr.com)

Insights provided by folks who have participated in this project so far are fascinating, sexy, revolutionary, obvious, confusing, theoretical, real, sad, funny, and queer. Their experiences translate the theoretical notions of framing into practice by illuminating the role of technology and internet space/community in the blood-and-sweat lives of real people. Real queers. I have to give a shout out to Varisco for thinking of this project before I did–I am jealous, but impressed. 🙂

Here are a few notable quotes that jumped out at me from the videos:

Alex: “I think that’s telling less about the medium, but more about this need to imagine community that is outside of these straight linear fictions” (qcsms.tumblr.com).

Vincent: “I’m interested in disclosure as a larger performance of identity and I think that social media had a really important role to play in that” (qcsms.tumblr.com).

Helios: “When I first started thinking that I was gay I would hide in my dorm room…just listening to the coming out archives on Youtube and all of these vloggers telling their stories about coming out and I would just listen and think…maybe I’ll finally here one of these stories and it will resonate” (qcsms.tumblr.com).

Grace: “I really kind of started to form…a queer lens. Kind of started to look at things through my identity” (qcsms.tumblr.com).

We are a generation of queers who have found, explored, created, maintained, disrupted, and reaffirmed our identities and relationships online. We are the internet.

Works Cited:

Varisco, Joseph. “A Queer Culture and Social Media Study.” Qcsms. 2012. Web. 20 Apr. 2012. <qcsms.tumblr.com>.