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LGBTQ teenagers are creating new online subcultures to combat oppression

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LGBTQ teenagers are creating new online subcultures to combat oppression

LGBTQ teenagers are creating new online subcultures to combat oppression

The internet can be an ugly place, especially for young people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or queer. Cyberbullying is difficult to combat, because the bullies are often anonymous. And toxic debates can fester on social media: the 2017 Stonewall school report found that “two in five LGBT young people are bullied online”.

Then came Harry Brewis. The young YouTuber – also known by his handle, Hbomberguy – raised £265,000 for the UK charity Mermaids to support gender diverse young people, by streaming his 57-hour Donkey Kong 64 marathon online.

Public figures including US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and activist Chelsea Manning reportedly attended Brewis’ stream via online platform Twitch, which allows viewers to chat and cheer on their favourite gamers while they play.

Aside from blowing his £3,000 funding goal out of the water, Brewis’ actions have shone a light on how young people are breaking new political ground on the internet – and especially in the male-dominated sphere of online gaming – by carving out space for the marginalised voices of LGBTQ young people.

Measuring what matters

My own research has uncovered a huge diversity and abundance of social media and online forums, where LGBTQ young people are creating new civic and community spaces from the privacy of their bedrooms.

There’s been very little investigation into these emerging forms of online activism, in part because researchers and journalists are fixated on mainstream social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and are all too often directed by the data generated by these sites’ own analytics tool.

In other words, they often assume that the most-clicked YouTube video or the most shared tweet is particularly meaningful to users. But if you talk to young people directly, a very different picture emerges.

The LGBTQ teenagers I spoke to in my research explained how they explored issues around trans identities and queer sexualities through subcultural online community websites. These included Fur Affinity (a fan forum with an interest in animal fantasy writing and art), trans community subreddits on Reddit, Sherlock fan fiction and online comics. These platforms are not widely recognised as online activist spaces, as such.

LGBTQ teenagers are creating new online subcultures to combat oppression

LGBTQ teenagers also made use of Facebook and YouTube, of course, but they were very aware of how the values, interests and opinions of straight, cis-gendered people prevail on these platforms, as in society at large.

They used a range of strategies to negotiate this, including turning to online counterpublics – alternative public spheres where challenges to dominant views can be expressed, shaped and shared (Tumblr would be the place to look for queer and trans counterpublics).

They also took a creative approach to overcoming the built-in constraints on sites such as Facebook – for example, the highly structured process of setting up and maintaining a user profile, which limits the way people can construct their online identity (for example, the rule that people must use their real name) – and creating their own content such as YouTube vlogs and humorous political memes, gifs and mashups.

Calling out the haters

In these ways and more, young LGBTQ people are pushing the frontiers of what’s recognised as activism and creating new strategies to combat oppression. One fascinating example of this is the way new categories are emerging in online social media culture.

Take, for example, the term “hater”. It’s used to describe those posting hyper critical or hurtful comments on Facebook posts, blogs or YouTube videos, typically involving homophobic, racist or sexist attacks or bullying. Labelling these people “haters” makes it possible to name them, talk about them and open up their behaviour to critical analysis.

As young people increasingly talk back to “the haters”, this creates opportunities for those targeted by hate speech to form alliances and develop new strategies for dealing with homo and transphobia. Indeed, addressing haters is emerging and evolving as a whole genre of social media activity in itself.

An example of this might be reading out haters’ comments and meeting them with your own experience, as teen vlogger Brendan Jordan does, using humour to call out the stupidity of the online hate.

It’s important to recognise how young people negotiate – and sometimes subvert – the values and norms incorporated by online platforms, to explore issues around gender, sexuality and identities through activism and community formation.

They are aware that the very DNA of the social media and digital technologies at our disposal are coded straight and cis – and this hidden fact has real-life consequences. Imagine being young and gender questioning, and googling “trans” to explore alternative gender expressions – the image that the internet will reflect back at you is not a bright or positive one.

The Mermaids charity has been under attack lately, not only in the tabloid press but also online. So much so that the Big Lottery Fund announced it would review its decision to award a £500,000 grant, after Father Ted sitcom writer Graham Linehan rallied opposition to the charity on parenting website Mumsnet. But Brewis’ efforts offers significant funds and a much-needed counterbalance to transphobic rhetoric, and proves that online subcultures should not be underestimated as a space for social activism.The Conversation

Olu Jenzen, Principal Lecturer in Media Studies, University of Brighton

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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BLACKPINK’s ‘Kill This Love’ music video just broke a massive YouTube record

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BLACKPINK's 'Kill This Love' music video just broke a massive YouTube record

BLACKPINK is in your area and they aren’t playing around. Their new music video for ‘Kill This Love’ has broken a massive YouTube record.

The music video for their latest comeback reached a staggering 100 million views in just two days, 14 hours, and 13 minutes. It’s the fastest video to ever hit the milestone on the platform. The K-pop girl group beat the previous record held by PSY‘s ‘Gentlemen.’

They also beat out fellow K-Pop idols BTS by reaching 70 millions views in just one day, 13 hours, and 30 minutes. BTS previously held the record with their music video for ‘Fake Love,’ reaching 70 million in two days, one hour, and 50 minutes.

‘Kill This Love’ is BLACKPINK‘s lead single from their new EP of the same name.

Jennie, Jisoo, Rosé, and Lisa are set to take the stage at Coachella on April 12, making them the first female K-pop act to do so. Afterward, they set out on their In Your Area tour, hitting stops in the US and Canada, before heading to Europe and Australia.

BLACKPINK's 'Kill This Love' music video just broke a massive YouTube record
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Entertainment

Lea Michele cast as Ariel in live concert of ‘The Little Mermaid’

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Lea Michele cast as Ariel in live concert of 'The Little Mermaid'
@leamichele Instagram/Disney

From Glee to the sea, Lea Michele is set to make waves as everyone’s favourite underwater princess, Ariel.

The Scream Queens star has been cast in a live performance of The Little Mermaid at Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl, meant to celebrate the film’s 30th anniversary.

Joining her onstage are Harvey Fierstein as Ursula, Ken Page as Sebastian, Peter Gallagher as King Triton, and Leo Gallo as Prince Eric.

Related | Disney is holding its first official LGBTQ Pride event

The cast will perform with a full orchestra while the original animated film plays behind them on a movie screen.

Audiences can expect to hear the film’s classic songs, like “Under the Sea,” “Kiss the Girl,” “Part of Your World,” and “Poor Unfortunate Souls.”

The performance takes place May 17 and 18.

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‘Game of Thrones’ star Sophie Turner: “I love a soul, not a gender”

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'Game of Thrones' star Sophie Turner: "I love a soul, not a gender"
HBO

Sophie Turner, known for her roles as Sansa Stark on Game of Thrones and Jean Grey in the X-Men movies (including this year’s Dark Phoenix), spoke about love in a recent interview with Rolling Stone.

More specifically, in the article, which focuses on her and GoT co-star Maisie WilliamsGrowing Up Game of Thrones,” Turner spoke about the way she loves. She revealed that she “never thought she’d get engaged so young, or at all,” adding, “I was fully preparing myself to be single for the rest of my life.” She is currently engaged to singer Joe Jonas.

Related | Little Mix sings under massive rainbow flag during performance in Dubai

She goes on to say that she believes her soul to be much older than her age (22, in case you’re wondering) and that she’s “lived enough life to know” when she’s found the person she wants to be with.

“I’ve met enough guys to know — I’ve met enough girls to know. I don’t feel 22. I feel like 27, 28.” When pushed to elaborate on the “girls” part, Turner continued. “Everyone experiments. It’s part of growing up. I love a soul, not a gender.”

Turner didn’t label her sexuality one way or another.

'Game of Thrones' star Sophie Turner: "I love a soul, not a gender"

The final season of Game of Thrones premieres April 14 and Dark Phoenix hits theatres June 7, 2019.

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