Can We Play ‘Fun Gay’? Disjuncture & Difference in Millenial Queer Youth Narratives

Mary Bryson

It has become commonplace for narratives concerning youth whose lives are situated within cultures saturated by convergent media, unproblematically to reproduce assumptions regarding the meliorative role of access to networked digital media. In these accounts, learning is co-extensive with play, access with participation, logging in with belonging, and the consumption of digital artifacts is read as meaningful engagement in networked socialities. Techno-rationalist accounts concerning Net Gen youth and new media likewise tend to consolidate in narratives that foreground a putative impact accorded to access to techno-social networks, the possibility to overcome inequities that would otherwise accrue as a function of problematic participation and citizenship in a public. This paper attends to the generative role of the Internet in accounts of sexual self-formation by millennial queer youth – youth whose adolescence is situated in a networked, digital culture. With particular attention to the contingent assemblage of gender, sexuality and other modes of identification, this research counters and complicates decontextualized, celebratory notions of queer youth and cyberspace.

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