Thesis

Crossing the digital divide : cyberculture spaces for adolescent queer women of color

Creating and disseminating online content is an integral means of managing one’s identity, lifestyle and relationships. Exploring virtual participation becomes especially vital when considering the importance of online participation for adolescent queer women of color. This cohort often encounters harassment from peers, family members and teachers, ultimately compelling them to seek virtual means of forming friendships and community. The current study explores the negotiation of sexuality and race within online spaces for queer women of color ages 16-19. The author employs a mixed methods approach that incorporates both a survey (n=60) and interviews (n=8). Findings reveal that online engagement may be an effective instrument for social equity, but this is dependent upon levels of outness, adult surveillance, and the minimization of the offline/online divide through social networking. Understanding how young queer women of color agentically negotiate identity provides further insight into the complex interactions between online spaces and offline environments.

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