Online fandom communities as networked counterpublics: LGBTQ+ youths’ perceptions of representation and community climate
McInroy, L. B., Zapcic, I., & Beer, O. W. J.
Online fandom communities (OFCs) provide lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and other sexual and/or gender minority (LGBTQ+) youth opportunities to access community-generated LGBTQ+ representations—contrasting mass media’s continued deficiencies in depiction of LGBTQ+ people and communities. This study sought to better understand LGBTQ+ adolescents’ and young adults’ (age 14–29) perceptions of OFCs regarding LGBTQ+ representation and community climate. Qualitative content analysis was employed to analyze open-ended survey questions from respondents in the United States and Canada (n = 3665). Three primary themes emerged: (1) LGBTQ+ mass media narratives remained insufficient but were improving; (2) counternarratives produced within OFCs were even better; however, (3) the climate of OFCs created challenges and limitations, including to the quantity and quality of depictions of diverse LGBTQ+ identities. Findings indicate OFCs may take on simultaneous qualities of networked publics and counterpublics, allowing youth opportunities to contest LGBTQ+ mass media depictions and problematic representations within OFCs.
McInroy, L. B., Zapcic, I., & Beer, O. W. J. (2021). Online fandom communities as networked counterpublics: LGBTQ+ youths’ perceptions of representation and community climate. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies. https://doi.org/10.1177/13548565211032377