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.
Doring, Nicole. “Studying Online Love and Cyber Romance.” 2002. Web. 20 Apr. 2012. <http://www.nicola-doering.de/publications/cyberlove_doering_2002.pdf>.
“TMates.” TMatesFTM. YouTube. Web. 20 Apr. 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/user/TMatesFTM?feature=watch>.