Event Title

Queer Memes on Instagram: Starting Conversations, Building Community, and Unconsciously Raising Queer Visibility

Location

Lobby in front of Auditorium

Start Date

19-4-2019 11:00 AM

Department

Communication, Media and Theatre

Description

For the purposes of this paper, the word queer will be used in place of the acronym “LGBTQ+.” Objection: In a society that is constantly bombarded with various forms of media: newspapers, magazine, TV shows, movies, films, tweets, Facebook posts, and memes, amongst others. In a quest to find the perfect queer media niche, a realization occurred: “the perfect form of queer media does not exist, instead it is subjective, all depending on the person searching for this niche.” Importance: Representation is important. In the past, academia was not as accepting nor as welcoming to people who openly identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, etc. Lack of acceptance in the “canons” of academia can be seen. Breaking down the barriers, norms that the cisgender and heterosexual hegemony have reinforced in the past, is importance to reach a better understanding of others around us and for the future and progression of queer academia. Methodology: The realization of the nonexistence of the perfect queer media because of its subjectivity, led to the journey of finding what my preferred medium was, which is Instagram and what my perfect queer media niche was, which are queer memes. Research on Instagram included taking note of how many followers these accounts had along with the amount of “likes” each post had. The amount of likes and followers determine how well or poorly something does on social media. The paper involved interviewing several subjects, one being a professor from Northeastern Illinois University, Dr. Laurie Fuller, whose expertise is in gender and women’s studies, as well as two different queer meme makers from Instagram, @TheGayChingy and @FlannelScream. The conversations led to a better understanding of how exactly queer memes can present an opportunity to begin dialogues, share cultures, express feelings, and opinions. Along with interviews, I utilized Northeastern Illinois University’s online databases, specifically JSTOR, to find documents such as papers, journals, etc., to either support or discredit the search into how the word queer has changed over the years, what a meme exactly is and how queer memes can communicate different messages to people. Findings: The findings of this research included both the positive and negative experiences which these two queer meme makers have experienced since making queer memes, their motivations, where they find their inspiration, and their thoughts on queer memes giving an insight of a different perspective to those who do not identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, etc. Queer meme makers that regularly post queer memes raise visibility of queerness and therefore begin to normalize queer culture to the mainstream society. This normalization of queer culture by using queer memes begins to change the current culture of academia by adding to the canon. Along with this, queer memes simultaneously entertain and inform others of an array of queer topics such as being a “top” or a “bottom,” addressing stereotypes, and inside jokes, amongst others. These memes open discussions about aforementioned topics both on and off Instagram.

Comments

Matthew Sage is the faculty sponsor of this poster.

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Apr 19th, 11:00 AM

Queer Memes on Instagram: Starting Conversations, Building Community, and Unconsciously Raising Queer Visibility

Lobby in front of Auditorium

For the purposes of this paper, the word queer will be used in place of the acronym “LGBTQ+.” Objection: In a society that is constantly bombarded with various forms of media: newspapers, magazine, TV shows, movies, films, tweets, Facebook posts, and memes, amongst others. In a quest to find the perfect queer media niche, a realization occurred: “the perfect form of queer media does not exist, instead it is subjective, all depending on the person searching for this niche.” Importance: Representation is important. In the past, academia was not as accepting nor as welcoming to people who openly identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, etc. Lack of acceptance in the “canons” of academia can be seen. Breaking down the barriers, norms that the cisgender and heterosexual hegemony have reinforced in the past, is importance to reach a better understanding of others around us and for the future and progression of queer academia. Methodology: The realization of the nonexistence of the perfect queer media because of its subjectivity, led to the journey of finding what my preferred medium was, which is Instagram and what my perfect queer media niche was, which are queer memes. Research on Instagram included taking note of how many followers these accounts had along with the amount of “likes” each post had. The amount of likes and followers determine how well or poorly something does on social media. The paper involved interviewing several subjects, one being a professor from Northeastern Illinois University, Dr. Laurie Fuller, whose expertise is in gender and women’s studies, as well as two different queer meme makers from Instagram, @TheGayChingy and @FlannelScream. The conversations led to a better understanding of how exactly queer memes can present an opportunity to begin dialogues, share cultures, express feelings, and opinions. Along with interviews, I utilized Northeastern Illinois University’s online databases, specifically JSTOR, to find documents such as papers, journals, etc., to either support or discredit the search into how the word queer has changed over the years, what a meme exactly is and how queer memes can communicate different messages to people. Findings: The findings of this research included both the positive and negative experiences which these two queer meme makers have experienced since making queer memes, their motivations, where they find their inspiration, and their thoughts on queer memes giving an insight of a different perspective to those who do not identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, etc. Queer meme makers that regularly post queer memes raise visibility of queerness and therefore begin to normalize queer culture to the mainstream society. This normalization of queer culture by using queer memes begins to change the current culture of academia by adding to the canon. Along with this, queer memes simultaneously entertain and inform others of an array of queer topics such as being a “top” or a “bottom,” addressing stereotypes, and inside jokes, amongst others. These memes open discussions about aforementioned topics both on and off Instagram.