Sexual and gender identity work on social media

Colosi, Rachela, Cowen, Nick and Todd, Megan orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-4274-8469 (2023) Sexual and gender identity work on social media. Sociology Compass . ISSN 1751-9020

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How do sexual and gender minorities use social media to express themselves and construct their identities? We discuss findings drawn from focus groups conducted with 17 sexual and gender minority social media users who shared their experiences of online harms. They include people with gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, queer, asexual, non-binary, pansexual, poly, and kink (LGBTQ+) identities. We find that sexual and gender minorities face several challenges online, but that social media platforms provide important spaces for them to feel understood and accepted. We use Goffman's work to explore how sexual and gender minorities engage in ‘front region’ performances online as part of their identity work. We then turn to Hochschild's concepts of ‘feeling rules’ and ‘framing rules’ to argue that presentations of self, or front region performances, must include the role of feelings and how they are socially influenced to be understood.

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