what i want to do is write, with my face very close to the page, carefully carving out the lines that will tell you what i’m discovering. and then i want to sing you those lines. the ones that fell out of my pen when i tried to do something academic. so here it is. jumbled but honest, just the same.
about a year ago i discovered the internet. well, i knew about the internet. aim turned into msn turned into yahoo and askjeeves and google to myspace to facebook to gmail to youtube to youporn to hulu. i knew about the world wide web. but a year ago, when i was lost in a mess of my own sexuality and dependency and confused, emotional, political, gray space, i started a blog. on tumblr. an extremely quiet blog without my name or my photo and rarely an original thought. and then i slowly began to make my way into the queerest, most liberating, strange space i had ever known. i spent hours a day, scrolling through photos of outfits and landscapes, tent forts and tattoos and fancy cappuccinos. and videos of people’s girlfriends and boyfriends and boifriends and grrrlfriends and kittens and questions and do it yourself beanbag instructions and kitchen herb gardens and hormone updates and advice on everything under the sun. and there was humor and pain and people wrote about their feelings and their breakups and i wrote about my feelings and my breakup. and there was gender. and sexuality. and so. much. fucking. gender. more than i had ever seen. there were boys and women and girls, men, butches, femmes, bears, twinks, androgynes, genderqueer and genderfucked and genderfluid, mtf, ftm, mtftm, ftmtwtf, transmen, transwomen, transfags and dykes and queers and birls and fairies and bdsm and softbutchgrrlylesbois and gays and bis and trans* folks and polyamorous, pansexual, transsexual, omnisexual, demisexual, asexual, all sexual porn. and stories and pictures and names and pronouns and questions and answers and everything in between the certain and the totally fucking uncertain. and it was all right there. on my computer. on tumblr. on youtube. right there behind my screen. and i was on the outside—safely out of reach. safely anonymous, safely in denial, dangerously curious. they inspired me. they confused me. they lit up a sexy little fire in the pit of my stomach that i called…intellectual curiosity. academic interest. research. that’s valid. that’s understandable. that’s safe. something i would later come to realize was kinship. a very painful perfect, deep—rooted secret connection. i had found the frayed end of a rope and i wanted to follow it. but it took me a while to figure out that the anchor on the other end was me.
For her class project, Maggie explored the following:
What meanings do trans* and genderqueer folks find in online communities? How is social identity formed through collective association with content? Communities created on sites like Tumblr and Youtube operate within frames that determine aspects of reality for the individual and the group. My guess is that these communities provide folks the opportunity to share knowledge and experiences, create solidarity, access sexual images that reflect their bodies and identities, and explore gender fluidity.
The way I see it, the possibilities for expression of gender and sexual identities in the context of queer online space are expanded far beyond that of performance in public, or even private, offline space—an already transformative and dynamic experience is now situated within an equally malleable platform.
Join me in finding out what Maggie discovered on WordPress and Tumblr. You can also follow her on Twitter. I don't know where the future will take Maggie after she graduates, but as a card-carrying member of her fan club, I can't wait to find out!