Thursday, May 10, 2012


Because this is a blog project about blogs and I talked about people posting images of themselves as part of queer identity production online, I wanted to post a photo of myself.  Feminist methodologies and theory teach that the researcher is not and can never be fully separated from their subject.  Even as I write about bloggers, I am myself blogging.  So, this is me.

final thoughts

The title of this post is a little misleading because these are not my final thoughts on this topic.  I plan to continue working on this blog and sharing my ideas and observations about the way queer people use the internet as a site for identity production and community building.  This project grew out of my interest in this subject.  I followed and read the blogs I mentioned because I thought they had interesting things to say about queerness.  It may seem like a little thing to post a photo of yourself on a blog, but for people who are often asked to hide their identity, it can be a liberating experience.   Showing images of real people who identify as LGBTQ is a very important because these are not the images that are shown in mainstream media.  LGBTQ people are still very underrepresented in old media.  New media such as social media, blogs, and other Internet products can be a place for LGBTQ people to be represented and literally show their faces.  Not ever seeing an image that looks like you can increase the isolation that you may feel as a young queer person.  Finding images of other people who look like you look or identify how you identify, even if it is only on a tumblr can make you feel less alone.

That being said, the blogs that I examined are not perfect representations.  Most of the bloggers tended to be white and most of the photos posted were of white people.  Some tumblrs reinforced beauty norms by exclusively or primarily showing people who were young, white, conventionally attractive, thin, and able-bodied.  There still seems to be problems with people who identify as femme not being represented as queer or as visibly queer in the blogosphere.  I may have simply not found blogs that showed more diversity.   It is also very likely that the same problems with racism, ableism, misogyny, fat hatred, and marginalization that occur in LGBTQ spaces in the physical realm are recreated in the digital realm.  I do not want to claim to have any solid answers.  The blogs I listed are by no means representative of all of the blogs dealing with these issues on tumblr alone, much less in the blogosphere in general.  I urge readers to seek out other blogs by searching for "queer" or "queer femme."  These critiques aside, the blogosphere and tumblr can prove to be a site for community building and knowledge and identity production for queer young people, especially those from places without a large LGBTQ community.  I can personally attest to how much reading queer blogs has helped me to articulate and appreciate my own queer identity.  Because it is at least to some degree anonymous, the internet can be a safe place for young people to express and explore identities that they cannot express or explore in the physical world due to threats of violence and discrimination or lack of access to queer spaces.  Even though we do not bring our physical bodies with us to the cyber world, we cannot divorce ourselves from our bodies and their lived realities.  The way we come to think about those bodies through our online communities can change the way that we live our lives in the material world.

Blog Roll

In working on this project, I not only consulted related scholarly literature but also blogs of individuals who identify as queer and blogs that are about queer subjects.  I specifically sought blogs that discussed body image, fashion, and femme identity.  I found these blogs on the blogging website  I thought that Tumblr blogs were particularly interesting because they were easy ways for people to share not only content they created but also content created or submitted by other users.  It is also a good site to examine for examples of users using their own images to authenticate and testify to their queer identity construction or critique stereotypes of queer identities.  Tumblr is also a site of community formation around various topics such as queer identity, fat activism, politics, and various fandoms.  People share and comment on items posted by other users.  People follow each other and sometimes form friendships and even relationships through blogging.  Tumblr blogs focused on topics are also sites of community building and identity critique.  These blogs are usually run by one or more users who then posts items, usually images, that other users submit.  These submissions can be personal photos or photos from media such as advertising campaigns, magazines, films, or television.  I found most of the blogs that I followed because they were connected to topic tumblrs or had items shared by other blogs that I followed.  So without further ado, here is a list of tumblrs that I followed using my personal tumblr (  These tumblrs inspired my own construction of my identity as well as inspiring and informing this project.

    This tumblr is run by E and A who describe themselves as "E is the blonde, A is the brunette. We live together in Center City, Philadelphia, and spend a good deal of time dorking about the city, trying out new restaurants, and sometimes planning and executing comic book type stories." They blog about queer things, comics, their relationship, fat activism, feminism, and other topics.
  • This blogger describes her blog as "fatshion, productive rage, shiny things, feminism, gender/identity politics, body hair, queer musings...queer, fat, glitter, femme." She posts photos of herself that question femme identity and gender because she has a mustache and presents a very femme gender performance.
  • Michael Spookshow describes his blog as "A look into the life & interests of Michael Spookshow. Expect all things dark, geeky, and weird. For those who always root for the bad guy." He is a cis male in a heterosexual marriage who believes that clothing should not be gendered. He regularly wears "women's" clothing such as dresses and skirts and posts photos on his tumblr and his other blog, He regularly blogs about what he calls men's fashion freedom. I included his blog on this list because he is using fashion to question norms about proper gender presentation. 
  • This blogger describes himself and his blog as "I am a black, queer, working poor, sex positive, body positive, fuck your slut shaming, Southern fried gent, organizer, and dedicated bacon lover. A fan of intentional & thoughtful language and communication that acknowledges varied lived experiences, i.e. don't forget about the intersections people! I love deep fryers, Xena/Buffy, and sweaty fun sexy times....In this space, you'll find super heroes, satire, biting wit, glitter, food, politics, emotions, grease, gifs, porn, gender fuckery, feminist/womanist thought, black folks, queers, scruff, bears, tight clothes, theory, shiny thangs, and more."  I really like the campiness that this blogger highlights as well as his focus on race and class. 
  • Zie describes hirself and hir blog as "I'm a queer outlaw. a queer femme. a feminist. body positive. trans positive. a trash enthusiast. on "all things femme. all things trash" you'll find pretty girls, hot queers, heels, glitz, drag queens, smut, monsters and zombies, smarty talk, food pictures, gender fuckery, fucking, tom foolery, teaching stories, cocktails, respect for elders, hope for revolution, & lady lovin'."  
  • This blogger describes hir blog as "this blog contains mainly of: queer sex (you have been warned), art, interior design, hot people, vegan food, non-human animals, femme delights, and stuff i find funny. there is a small amout of kink since i haven't figured out how comfortable i am sharing that side of myself with others yet."  I decided to include this blog because it is not so much about fashion but does include many photos of queer bodies in the nude.  It is not safe for work.  I like this blog because it is specifically about queer sexuality.  
  • This is a topic blog which claims to post "all things queer."  Most of the posts are images that users submitted of themselves because they want to claim their identity and visibility as queers.  One critique of this blog is that most of the photos are of white people who look fairly androgynous and are not visibly fat or disabled.  This is likely due to the fact that the content is based on submissions.  
  • This topic tumblr speaks to the problems of visibility for lesbians, bisexuals, and queer women who identify as femme and who's appearance conform to stereotypes of the feminine.  It proclaims that it is for "the lesbians who prefer to be a little bit more femme, this is your space to show the world your beautiful face.  We no longer have to be invisible!"  The blog features reblogged images of women kissing as well as user submissions. 
  • This is the site/blog/tumblr of awesome poet Lauren Zuniga who was the University of Oklahoma Women and Gender Studies Program Center for Social Justice Activist in Resident for the Spring 2012 semester.  She is a brilliant poet and shares her poems and thoughts about being part of the LGBTQ community in Oklahoma on her site which is why I included her in this blog roll.
  • This blog is a topic blog which features both reblogged images and reader submissions of people who are androgynous in appearance.  A critique of this blog is that the people pictured are mostly very thin, very white, able-bodied, and conventionally attractive.  
  • This blog is a topic blog which focuses on the subject of femme identity which does not fit stereotypes of femininity.  The blog description reads "a celebration of fabulous femme folks who look just as tough as they do fly and a plethora of hard femme inspirations."  I think this blog is very interesting because it is a critique of the femme identity that says that people who identify as femme can also identify as punk or "hard."  The blog features reader submissions and media images.
  • This is a blog that focuses on a style it calls tom boy femme.  I included it because it is a blog that is working on stretching and redefining the femme aesthetic.  It notes that tom boy femme is not about gender or sexuality but fashion.  The blog features both reblogs of inspirational images and reader submissions of readers wearing "tom boy femme" clothing.
  • This blog is written by Erin and Ashley.  They define glitter politic as "self-love blown open."  They belong to a queer community in Canada with Jessica Luxery and Majestic LeGay and post about queer sex, self-love, and femme identity.
  • This blog is written by Jessica Luxery.  She writes about herself and her blog "I'm Jessica Luxery. I'm a high-femme fatty who bleeds glitter and kittens in lace bonnets. I was born on a bed of frosting, with a can of hairspray and a jug of blush, to a young (but legal!) Elizabeth Taylor and your Lord and Savior: Freddie Mercury. My blouses are too low, my hair too high, but my heart is in the just right place. I talk about self acceptance, being queer, examining my whiteness, loving and worshipping my femininity and dreaming big."     Jessica's blog was one of the first blogs that I followed that focused on queerness, femme identity, and fashion.  She was a big influence to me on this project.  I found her blog through her fat activism.  She is married to Majestic LeGay and posts photos of herself with commentary.
  • This blog is written by Majestic LeGay.  They describe themselves and their blog as "I'm Majestic. I write and post about style, sex, gender, relationships, whiteness, body politics, power and my journey of self love. I've got a limp wrist, a tender heart and a magnificently fat ass. I live for laughter, love, heavy petting, rhinestone brooches and bizarre spectacle. I combine my activism and art with theory and glitter in ways that are aesthetically bad ass and probably revolutionary. Coming soon to a high glitz sex riot near you. xo"  They are married to Jessica Luxery and live in Canada.  They were another large inspiration to this project.  They prefer gender neutral pronouns and frequently post images of themselves with commentary about what they are wearing and why.  They discuss queer masculinity and modern queer camp.
  • This tumblr is a topic blog about vintage inspired masculine clothing.  This blog is literally a visual how-to of a type of queer masculine aesthetic.  The subtitle of the blog is "DIP ME INTO HONEY & THROW ME TO THE QUEERS WITH BOWTIES."  This blog questions gender norms because it features images of people who appear to be male, female, and of other gender presentations.  This blog features inspiration images and reader submissions of themselves in dapper clothing.
  • This blog is written by Margritte who identifies as a queer femme.  She blogs about fat activism, queer things, and fashion.  She posts photos of herself frequently.  
  • J is a trans woman artist, singer, and performer.  She posts photos of herself, information about her performances, and about trans activism.  
  • This blog is written by Charlie Reed.  They identify as third gender.  They post images of them self frequently as well as reblogging images of other queer people.  
  • This blog was written by Mark, a queer artist.  Her blog is still up, but she is gone.  She committed suicide in March.  I want to dedicate this post to her memory.  Her life and her memory are an example of the continued struggle to exist as a queer person in this society.  Her death touched many in the queer community on Tumblr and is symbolic of the relationships that can develop between people who have never met in the physical world.  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

"Virtually Queer?" and benefits and problems with queer community building online

In the article "Virtually Queer? Homing Devices, Mobility, and Un/Belongings," Mary Bryson, Lori MacIntosh, Sharalyn Jordan, and Hui-Ling Lin discuss their project to examine the way that queer women in Canada use media and the internet as a source of information and site for community building.  They note that the internet can be used to create spaces for community building on email lists and chat room websites, but that these spaces can also be sites of policing if people do not meet criteria set by other users (Bryson, et al., 2006, 794).   They also interviewed lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer women to see how they engaged with new media, fandoms, and television.  I found their discussion of blogging and blog reading to be particularly relavent.  They write,   
"The narrative act of blogging adheres to a performative standard that is tightly tied to audience expectation and thus audience’s consumptive participation in the blogging process. Blogging as a self-productive act is driven by desire and is both a “means” and an “end” to the production of the “self as—” (Cohen, 2005). Individuals perform the “truth(s)” of who they are via gender identifications, belief systems, political positionings, et cetera. This “truth” of being requires that others witness and thereby confirm the recognizablity of the self’s emergence (Butler, 2005). Yet blogs are not utopic spaces of virtuality where the self can posit an endless number of representations, claiming subjectivities in an online world of free-floating signifiers." (Bryson, et al., 2006, 802).
I think they do a really good job at hitting at the possible conflict between the act of revealing parts of the self in the public act of blogging while maintaining some degree of anonymity.  People have to share some parts of their identity in order to engage with their audience.  The act of engagement and writing for others is an integral part of the idea of blogging.   They especially noted the act of creating the public self in the personal blogs of the people they interviewed who tended to maintain blogs about their lives rather than blogs that are focused on a topic or issue (Bryson, et al., 2006, 801-802).

They also note how important the internet can be in allowing LBTQ women to find community and a place to find information and ways to express their sexuality.  They note, 
"Irrespective of age and location, interviewees continued to identify an ongoing relationship both to “the closet” and to pervasive and persistent impacts of homophobia. While unevenly distributed as a function of geography, occupation, and likelihood of being perceived as “queer,” participants’ narratives of sexual subjectivity testify to the cost of the “economy of visibility” within which being recognizable as queer is both necessary and also constitutive of a mark of difference that is a target for violence in its myriad incarnations." (Byrson, et al., 2006, 803)
I thought this was a particularly astute statement about the problems of visibility for queer women.  The problems of being seen and not being seen as queer or gay are very real and complicated for queer people.  This problem can be compounded for queer women who identify as femme and are less visible than women who noticeably break gender barriers and for people who live in rural places where there is not a large queer community or where people are not allowed to express divergent sexualities or gender presentations.

They do note that the internet is a very critical space for people to find not only information but also communities, either in the physical or the digital world, where they can connect to people like themselves (Bryson, et al., 2006, 806).  They do think, however that it is not a perfect place and that problems of identity policing still take place there and that there continues to be lack of awareness of racial marginalization of minority women by white women (Bryson, et al., 2006, 806-807).  It is problematic to think that the internet will be a magical utopia for queer people where the problems of the "real" world do not exist.  Because the internet is constructed by people, people bring the problems of the physical world such as racism with them on to the internet and recreate those problems.

Bryson, Mary, Lori MacIntosh, Sharalyn Jordan, and Lin Hui-Ling. 2006. "Virtually Queer? Homing Devices, Mobility, and Un/Belongings." Canadian Journal Of Communication 31, no. 4: 791-814.Communication & Mass Media Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed May 10, 2012).

On Fashion

I read two articles related to fashion.  One focused on fashion bloggers while the other addressed the idea of the fashion victim.  Unfortunately neither article was as helpful to my project as I expected though both present interesting arguments.  In "Blog Ambition: Fashion, Feelings, and the Political Economy of the Digital Raced Body," Minh-Ha T. Pham discussed high profile fashion bloggers, particularly Asian American and British Asian fashion bloggers.  The article raised issues of the way fashion blogging is ignored in media discourses about blogging even though political blogs are studied and how this ignores female bloggers even though there are women that blog about politics because many female bloggers focus on culture and fashion (Pham, 2011, 5).  The article also seeks to discuss the way that fashion industry reacts to bloggers and has sought to co-opt bloggers and bring them into the corporate world (Pham, 2011, 11).  Finally it discusses how the democratic nature of blogging has opened fashion and beauty discoures for people who have historically been excluded such as Asian American women (Pham, 2011, 14).  I hoped that this article might talk about fashion blogging more generally rather than focus so much on the issue of the interaction of high profile fashion bloggers and the fashion industry.  There needs to be more study of fashion blogging beyond discussion of popular fashion bloggers particularly in how fashion blogging can help people to construct identity and celebrate bodies that are not seen as beautiful such as queer bodies and fat bodies.

"Fashion Victimes: On the Individualizing and De-individualizing Powers of Fashion" by Bjorn Schiermer takes a more philosophical look at fashion.  Schiermer examines the concept of the fashion victim in modern society.  Schiermer defines fashion victims as people who are too extreme in their fashion choices and who display "individual excess that transcends cultural norms" (Schiermer, 2010, 90).  I found the most interesting part of Schiermer's argument to be about subcultural fashion and anti-fashion.  Schiermer writes,
"Inside the subculture, there are no fashion victims—not because there is too little mimicry, but because there is too much. In fact, the display of uniform subcultural excess often coincides with a strong collective pressure and the existence of a definite and clear-cut symbolic imaginary that alludes to more "primitive" religious societies. On the other hand and in contrast with tribal sociality, the modern counterculture often defines itself through an opposition to commercial fashion dynamics, which are considered the epitome of repression. These groups are, as Davis would have it, not outside of fashion, but antifashion.' In reducing fashion to commercial clothing fashion existing outside in "capitalist" or "materialist" society, antifashion hides its own fashion character. This "externalization" explains why the counterculture does not conceive of its own uniformity in terms of fashion—and consequently why an unprecedented conformity is possible here." (Schiermer, 2010, 90-91)
I found this discussion interesting because I am looking at individuals who are part of the gay and queer subcultures.  Because so much of subcultural identity is based on being perceived as part of that group, fashion becomes very important.  There is a certain level of importance placed on looking gay enough or queer enough to be recognized not only by other members of the group but also by people outside the group.  It may seem odd to people who do not identify with a subculture to want to mark themselves as an "other," but it can be an critical part of forming an identity based on that subcultural belonging to be recognized as being a member.  This can mean that people will choose clothing that may not fit their individual preferences or that erases some of their individual choice in clothing because it makes them look how they think they are supposed to look.

Pham, Minh-Ha T. "Blog Ambition: Fashion, Feelings, and the Political Economy of the Digital Raced Body." Camera Obscura 26, no. 76 (January 2011): 1-37. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost(accessed May 9, 2012).

Schiermer, Bjørn. "Fashion Victims: On the Individualizing and De-individualizing Powers of Fashion."Fashion Theory: The Journal Of Dress, Body & Culture 14, no. 1 (March 2010): 83-104. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed May 9, 2012).

Julie Rak and queer blogging

In her article "The Digital Queer: Weblogs and Internet Identity," Julie Rak discusses general trends around LGBTQ blogging and discourse around blogging in general.  She begins by discussing the problems with classifying blogs or web logs as diaries or something else.  She says that in the early days of the internet blogs were different from online diaries or journals because they served as catalogs or producers of information and links rather than as simply journal entries (Rak, 2005, 170-171).  She also examines discourses around blogs as diaries or other.  I personally perceive the blogs that I read as more like zines than diaries.  I agree with Rak that a blog is different from a diary in that it is written with the intention of attracting readers (Rak, 2005, 171).  Rak posits blogging within the generally liberal framework of the early and as part of liberalism because the blog focuses on the writer as a individual with the agency of writing and making choices outside the traditional world of publishing (Rak, 2005, 172-176).  
What I found most interesting about her article was her attempt to articulate what queer blogging is.  She connects queer blogging with earlier ideas about sexuality and the need to share the private identity with others.  She writes:
"Foucault also concluded that the study of sexuality needed the sexually deviant subjects of scrutiny to “confess,” not just their sexual practices and desires, but also their sexuality as an identity in itself. Sexuality as an identity therefore has had the need for confession (or coming out of the closet) at its core, which based claims of sexuality on repeating and narrating experiences that “prove” what one’s real identity is." (Rak, 2005, 169).
She says that bloggers are walking a continue line between disclosing private details in a public way in order to attract readers and to prove that they are who they say they are since there are no guarantees that the bloggers is being honest about their lives and experiences.  Because queer people are also asked to confess their lives and sexuality in order to be seen as queer, there is already a common link between the queer and blogging.   The same is doubly true for queer bloggers who not only have to share details to validate their stories and writing but also to declare that they are in fact LGBTQ and should be classified as such.  This raises the important question of what are queer blogs.  Are they blogs written by queer people?  Or do they need to be explicitly about queer subjects?  If they are about the writers lives, is that queer enough?  Do the writers get to decide how they will be classified if they share their sexuality with their readers?  These are difficult questions.  I have chosen to focus on blogs that are explicitly about queer things by presumably queer bloggers.  Rak also chose to read blogs that listed and marked as queer.  This may mean that the conclusions that I or Rak draw about queer blogging will be limited due to seeking out self-identified queer blogs.

Article source:
Rak, Julie. "THE DIGITAL QUEER: WEBLOGS AND INTERNET IDENTITY." Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly 28, no. 1 (Winter2005 2005): 166-182. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed May 9, 2012).

Camp again

As a counterpoint to yesterday's post about Camp as discussed by Susan Sontag, I want to discuss the article by Aymar Jean Christian titled "Camp 2.0: A Queer Performance of the Personal."  In this article Christian is discussing the way that people perform camp on  This article was very interesting and somewhat related to my subject matter in that it is talking about the way that young people today are interacting with Camp sensibilities online.  The major difference in Christian's subject matter and mine is that zie is focused on actual performers rather than people who are writing blogs and posting photos.  I see the difference in that zie is comparing these videos to traditional drag or Camp performances  and I see blogging as being more related to diary writing or zine making.  In many ways, I think blogging, particular tumblr blogging, which is very image heavy and involves sharing not only images and writings that you created but also works created by other users, is more like zine making than anything else.  Both involve putting private work and sentiments into a public, digital forum, but blogging is more about sharing personal statements and information than about performing.  I did like Christian's analysis of queer camp and online camp as being two separate things.  Zie says that queer camp did not have a place for discussion of the individual self while online camp focuses heavily on the self and individuality while embracing identity construction and categorization (Christian, 2010, 361-362).  Christian claims that it is the high visibility of gay culture today that enable young people to claim a place in larger queer and gay movements while still feeling able to construct their own identities as part of yet separate for more monolithic formations of identity (Christian, 2010, 362).  I'm not sure if I agree with all of zie's assertions about individuality because I think the fact that zie's subjects are in the act of performing on YouTube may make them more individualistic than other people in online communities, but I do think that there is a strong current of individualism and the importance of individual productions of identity in online work by LGBTQ young people.  If people are not expected to be symbols of a movement that is fighting for any sort of visibility, then there may be more room for them to play with, question, and redefine identities.

Christian, Aymar Jean. "Camp 2.0: A Queer Performance of the Personal." Communication, Culture & Critique 3, no. 3 (September 2010): 352-376. Communication & Mass Media Complete, EBSCOhost(accessed May 9, 2012).