Wednesday, 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).

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