Creating supportive LGBTQ spaces: finding new constructs of families and communities in the virtual world

McConatha, Melina
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University of Delaware
This qualitative study explored the online experiences for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, and queer (LGBTQ) community through examining their connections with other individuals and communities, and sharing of personal stories online. Seventeen face-to-face interviews were conducted with people who identify as LGBTQ. The data revealed the emergence of alternate constructs of families and communities online as a source of support in the face of abuse, violence, and bullying based on gender and sexual identity. Using a strengths-based perspective and a feminist lens, this study emphasizes the LGBTQ community's existing online resources in order to work towards equality, inclusivity, reflexivity, and advocacy. It reveals that, despite diverse and sometimes divided histories, the LGBTQ community has rallied together online to work towards social justice and equality. Social networks are a platform for a more inclusive and accessible dialogue on how to create social change in the LGBTQ community. These networks emerge as a useful tool to strengthen and support LGBTQ individuals' fluid and ever-changing concepts of identity, family, and community.