Group 7: Youtube of One's Own

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The article was mainly about "coming out" videos that were found posted on youtube by numerous youtubers. Our group discussed the different aspects posting up these "coming out" videos and how it has helped other GLBT individuals to post up their own as well. We felt for these individuals to post up these videos, they were able to find a supportive network of people who have gone through the same situation and it inspired them to do the same. For someone who may be far away from other GLBTs, technology gives them the opportunity engage in a social change that is occuring online. The idea of "coming out" videos was very interesting because it gave the person a chance to gather their thoughts and say it once, instead of having to tell other family and friends numerous times about their sexual identity. However, we also came to the conclusion that the person who posted up the "coming out" videos, is actually coming out more than once, based on how many times the video is viewed. Not only that but just the idea of doing a "coming out" video, it forces these GLBTs to be viewed as gay in a certain context or space that is slowly being constructed.

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I'm interested in the possibilities of queering space through these acts of video confession. My group also discussed "A Youtube of One's Own?" and I'm wondering: did your group get at all into differences between a physical room of one's own and a digital space of one's (debatable) own? I think that the question mark in the chapter's title becomes somewhat key, because in the domain of Youtube public/private boundaries are not so clear, and so while people are therein more open to earnest and positive connections they are also more open to discriminatory or inflammatory remarks. We talked about how in this there is potential to sort of "practice," if you will, speaking up and fighting for one's identity.

moviesofmyself,

Our group (group 7) actually did discuss many of the questions you're pointing out here. Most of our discussion points seem to be missing from this short write up, in fact. But that's understandable -- I felt in small group like many of my own critiques/problems with the article and the whole concept of coming out (a metaphor I'm largely opposed to) were met with discomfort. I do think that placing one's self in a vulnerable position such as this, especially in this format-- namely, one that could potentially be hostile or dangerous-- is something to question. The internet can certainly be a place where like-minded people can form certain alliances, but it's also a place where hateful rhetoric seems to reign supreme. Since people choose to broadcast themselves on Youtube (while enjoying the privacy of a room of their own) precisely because it is not private, they relinquish control over who their audience is, and who they're engaging with -- the internet's most dangerous quality is that all of its users, regardless of qualification, have the power of authorship, publication, of uninhibited subjectivity: all of which may be anonymous.
Your last point is something our group did not discuss, and I wonder if you could, perhaps, elaborate on what you mean because I may be slightly confused -- in my group discussion, I was fairly critical of the whole self-broadcasting purpose of the Youtube medium, in that I read this particular use as somewhat of a vain enterprise, catering to narcissism more than activism. But the question, then, was raised in our group of the phenomenal number of teen suicides recently and the activist potential of the "genre" (the article's word, not mine) to reach out to people who may believe themselves to be alone -- I know Dan Savage has used both his internet fame and the Youtube format for this very purpose.

Mary,

Thank you! I would also consider myself mostly against (or at least skewed from) metaphors of coming out for many reasons, not the least of which is the way in which coming out discourses often stress the necessity of repeatedly citing one's coming out identity in order to become "authentic." This is annoying at best and life-threatening at worst. I've also found, through connections with various LGBTQ groups at the U of M over the past four years, that any critiques of coming out are generally not well received except by the few. I mean, here we find ourselves in National Coming Out Month, for queer's sake!

This makes our current subject even more difficult to approach. Coming out is too often reduced to an empowering speech act, when in fact there is a lot more at work in the reasons that such acts continue to be repeated. So, I don't DISagree with any of your assertions, especially that Youtube as a medium may be seen as "catering to narcissism more than activism." While our group didn't really get to that discussion (and though I would certainly still like to), my last point was that I do see some potential in Youtube as a sort of training ground. Because of the queering of time possible through these digital interactions, creators who receive hateful comments need not immediately formulate a face-to-face response. They can think it through, seek out advice online, or maybe physically go to the one or more people they can talk to about it (whether for the first time or not). On top of that, other people (me, for example) can also jump in and weave some words around the internet bully. These resources aren't as accessible say, when you're being bullied in the space of your school, work place, etc. In these ways, Youtube to me may at best, through the sharing of coming out and other queer and trans narratives (there are many users documenting hormonal, legal, and surgical changes), provide creators with space in which to practice interactions with those who may, in others spaces, present more immediate or bodily harm. This is certainly one quality of the distances (of all sorts) involved in digital communication such as that on Youtube.

Perhaps that ties into a sort of activism and the "It Gets Better" stuff coming from Dan Savage. I just don't know though. I recently watched a conversation between two friends of mine (yes, on Facebook) heavily critiquing (without the backdrop of GWSS classes, mind you) the idea that said project is just sooooooo wonderful. They agreed that a lot more is needed to really support LGBTQ folks in high school, that in fact curriculum and attitudes of teachers and administrators in many cases needs to change. So much education is needed to, in a lot of cases, accomplish very little. They asked how much a little Youtube channel really does. I don't know.

Hey, this group thing feels like forever ago. I feel relatively the same way as you all do about coming out videos, but I also feel like it allows for many GLBT kids to open themselves up for a more public coming out with more public negative feedback. The amount of hate speech on the internet is out of control, to the point where congress is considering passing legislation, and I feel that these kids are unwittingly making themselves targets of verbal and possible physical abuse online or within their communities.

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