Tag Archives: Youtube

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;.


radical self-love

when i started blogging and video blogging on youtube, and actually i auditioned and got a spot on a little startup youtube collaborative channel called dykeswholikedykes. um, anyway, when i started doing all this, something i had to try and overcome was this feeling of navel gazing. i guess that’s what my dad has always called it. um, and what are you really doing when you’re doing an academic project about yourself or about your feelings? i keep saying to my friends, “oh, i’m writing a capstone about my feelings. i’m doing a project about my feelings.” and i say it in sort of a self-deprecating way that makes it into a joke. but i really don’t think it’s a joke. i was just thinking how i could describe this to you and i remember reading a tumblr post a couple of months back, where the person writing the post was talking about how to practice self love. and they were saying, sometimes what you really need to do is open your computer and open photobooth or whatever application you have on your computer where you can see your reflection or a streaming, back video of yourself essentially? a picture of your face? and just stare at it. just fucking stare at yourself in the computer screen until you like what you see. and, you know, paint your nails while you’re doing it, i think is what this person said. that really spoke to me. because, we are taught, as queer people—or as any people really, regardless of what your identity is or how other people think of you—not to enjoy ourselves, not to enjoy our own presence, not to enjoy being there alone with our minds and staring at our own fucking faces, like, in a computer screen for an hour for two hours until we love looking at ourselves. and so, my response to criticism about this project is, yes. this project is navel gazing. i am gazing at my navel. i am gazing at my face in a computer screen. i am listening to my voice play back to me over a voice recorder and…that is radical self-love. so, i’m not ashamed. and i think more people should research themselves, i really do. that’s one of the things i’m taking away from this.

Trans* teens on YouTube. They exist.

Now that I’ve talked and talked and talked about objectivity and social media and theoretical notions of genderqueerness and what all those things MEAN?!!!??, I suppose it’s time to dive into some analysis, wouldn’t you say? I want to start by talking about a certain article that was posted on Salon.com back in February of this year. The article is entitled “Trans Teens Turn to YouTube” and it was written by Tracy Clark Florey, Salon’s in-house sex and relationships writer. If you’re anything like me, you’ve been following tons of trans* folks on YouTube for…forever. (And by forever, what I mean is approximately 3 years) So naturally, when this article was shared by one of my Facebook friends a while back, I was intrigued and skeptical. I’m used to seeing ignorant, insensitive headlines like “Transgender Teens: Girls will be Boys” orTransgender Teenager Prostitutes to Raise Cash for Surgery to Look Female.” Really? I mean, really?

To my surprise and delight, Clark-Florey treats the experiences of the teens featured in her article with respect and touches honestly upon the very phenomenon that interests me–trans* teens turning to YouTube for advice and community! She describes the experience of Natalie, a 17-year-old girl from New York who uses YouTube to document her transition, reach out to other folks of similar experience, and provide hope to others who might be seeking solidarity. Natalie says:

 “When I was just coming out as transgender, I needed somewhere to show me that being me is OK, and that being different is a good thing…I found that YouTube was really where I belonged, and that the Internet will always be my home.”

Natalie discovered a reflection of her experience on Youtube and decided to give back by providing that example to other youth. The best part about this, to me, is that it’s not an isolated example. Em Korczak, a vlogger I’ve been following myself for some time now, posted a video back in 2011 in which Em described all the positive things about being trans*. Em said:

“I used to be all insecure and stuff, obviously, and there were a couple of people on YouTube who were just themselves and I was like, ‘You know what? Fuck! Cuz these guys are awesome and I wanna be myself. Because they’re not doing too bad and maybe it’s okay to be me!’ And so if I can pass that liberating, wonderful feeling on to someone else…then that’s fantastic.”

Vloggers like Em and Natalie and so many others are contributing to a movement that is changing the way trans* and genderqueer people access information and come to define and embody their own identities. Em, if you’re reading this–you passed that feeling on to me.

Works Cited:

Clark-Flory, Tracy. “Trans Teens Turn to Youtube.” Salon.com. 25 Feb. 2012. Web. 19 Mar. 2012. <http://www.salon.com/2012/02/26/trans_teens_turn_to_youtube/&gt;.

So, here’s what I want to know.

What meanings do trans* and genderqueer folks find in online communities? How is social identity formed through collective association with content? Communities created on sites like Tumblr and Youtube operate within frames that determine aspects of reality for the individual and the group. My guess is that these communities provide folks the opportunity to share knowledge and experiences, create solidarity, access sexual images that reflect their bodies and identities, and explore gender fluidity.

The way I see it, the possibilities for expression of gender and sexual identities in the context of queer online space are expanded far beyond that of performance in public, or even private, offline space—an already transformative and dynamic experience is now situated within an equally malleable platform. Over the course of the next few months I’ll be posting and analyzing content on this blog that will shed some light on these questions I have. I expect to look at blog content, vlogs, and academic articles dealing with both theory and practice. In opening up my thoughts and analyses to a larger audience–namely, you–my intention is to get constructive feedback and set the stage for collaborative ideas. Call me out, call me off, call me up, call me awesome (please), just don’t call me late for any queer, vegan, potluck style community activist meetings. Or whatever.