Since the mid-1990s, the Internet and online spaces have been considered an ideal place for young queer people to gather and interact, create a space to navigate their interests, and communicate identities and desires (Hampson and Bochmann, 2018). Tumblr is a blogging and social networking website in which users create a blog page and are able to follow other blogs and create content or share others’ content. This content can range from anywhere from analyses of the political climate to cute pet videos and pornography. Tumblr has created an online community where people can share their art, their opinions, their thoughts, their feelings, their stories and with a click of the button can be seen across the globe (Muñiz and O’Guinn, 2001, 413; Caliandro, 2017, 561).
As of 2018, Tumblr is a social media space with a large portion of vocal and visibly queer users. Additionally, as a user myself, I’ve found it interesting that joining the platform prior to coming out to both myself and others I somehow have still found the queer community and queer relationships that I needed to feel like my experiences were relatable. I initially joined to follow those who had the same interests as me, such as television, movies, comedy and soccer. Whether it was my tastes and interests that were inherently queer or if it was the pure multitude of queer users, I unintentionally gravitated towards queer blogs, and sequentially enveloping myself into the queer community. From an ethnographic standpoint, I find it interesting how so many people of the LGBTQIA+ community have found Tumblr as somewhat of a watering hole for queer entertainment, affairs, news and politics (Byron and Robards, 2017).
For my research project, I would like to concentrate on the question of why queer identifying persons are drawn to such online social spaces with a particular focus on the usage of Tumblr. I will be looking into queer users and how they first found queer content and how they use the filter bubbled and somewhat utopic space now. Some theories I have hypothesised include the sense of community and safety Tumblr provides, Tumblr as a place of discovery and learning and where a person can fit in and identify themselves comfortably, and finally queer magnetism: a social phenomenon in which somehow without specifying sexual or gender identities, queer persons tend to swim in the same circles due to similar belief systems and/or interests.
Through these hypotheses I hope to gain an understanding of how and why such a large population of the Tumblr community are queer identifying and how they found their online space and made it the abode in which they comfortably reside.
Byron, P. and Robards, B. (2018). There’s something queer about Tumblr. [online] The Conversation. Available at: https://theconversation.com/theres-something-queer-about-tumblr-73520 [Accessed 28 Sep. 2018].
Caliandro, A. (2017). Digital Methods for Ethnography: Analytical Concepts for Ethnographers Exploring Social Media Environments. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 47(5), p.561.
Hampson, E. and Bochmann, L. (2018). Queering the internet: A sociological analysis of queer online activism | re:publica 2018. [online] re:publica 2018. Available at: https://18.re-publica.com/en/session/queering-internet-sociological-analysis-queer-online-activism [Accessed 28 Sep. 2018].
Muñiz, Albert M., Jr., and Thomas C. O’Guinn. 2001. “Brand Community.” Journal of Consumer Research 27 (March): 412–32