Supporting Diversity: Creating New Constructs of Families and Communities in the Virtual World

By Melina McConatha and Nikki DiGregorio.

Published by The International Journal of Diverse Identities

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: January 15, 2016 $US5.00

This qualitative study explored the online experiences for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (LGBTQ) community through examining their connections with other individuals, communities, and sharing of personal stories online. Seventeen face-to-face interviews were conducted with people who identify as LGBTQ. The data revealed the emergence of alternate constructs of families and communities online as a source of support in the face of abuse, violence, and bullying based on gender and sexual identity. Using a strengths-based perspective and a feminist lens, this study emphasizes the LGBTQ community’s existing online resources in order to work toward equality, inclusivity, reflexivity, and advocacy. It reveals that, despite diverse and sometimes divided histories, the LGBTQ community has rallied together online to work toward social justice and equality. Social networks are a platform for a more inclusive and accessible dialogue on how to create social change in the LGBTQ community. These networks emerge as a useful tool to strengthen and support LGBTQ individuals’ fluid and ever-changing concepts of identity, family, and community. More specifically, results indicate the range of perceived support via social networks for seventeen members of the LGBTQ community; implications and possible next steps are discussed.

Keywords: Supporting Diversity, LGBTQ Identity, Safe Spaces, Family, Community, Social Media

International Journal of Diverse Identities, Volume 16, Issue 1, March 2016, pp.1-18. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: January 15, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 613.667KB)).

Dr. Melina McConatha

Adjunct Professor, Department of Psychology, West Chester University of Pennsylvania, West Chester, Pennsylvania, USA

Dr. Nikki DiGregorio

Assistant Professor, School of Human Ecology, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, Georgia, USA