Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer visibility through selfies: Comparing platform mediators across Ruby Rose’s Instagram and Vine presence

Duguay, Stefanie (2016) Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer visibility through selfies: Comparing platform mediators across Ruby Rose’s Instagram and Vine presence. Social Media + Society, 2(2).

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Abstract

This article investigates the relationship between social media platforms and the production and dissemination of selfies in light of its implications for the visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (LGBTQ) people. Applying an Actor Network Theory lens, two popular visual media apps, Instagram and Vine, are examined through a comparative walkthrough method. This reveals platform elements, or mediators, that can influence the conversational capacity of selfies in terms of the following: range, the variety of discourses addressed within a selfie; reach, circulation within and across publics; and salience, the strength and clarity of discourses communicated through a selfie. These mediators are illustrated through LGBTQ celebrity Ruby Rose’s Instagram selfies and Vine videos. Instagram’s use expectations encourage selfies focused on mainstream discourses of normative beauty and conspicuous consumption with an emphasis on appearance, extending through features constraining selfies’ reach and salience. In contrast, Vine’s broader use expectations enable a variety of discourses to be communicated across publics with an emphasis on creative, first-person sharing. These findings are reflected in Rose’s Instagram selfies, which mute alternative discourses of gender and sexuality through desexualized and aesthetically appealing self-representations, while Vines display her personal side, enabling both LGBTQ and heterosexual, cisgender people to identify with her without minimizing non-normative aspects of her gender and sexuality. These findings demonstrate the relevance of platforms in shaping selfies’ conversational capacity, as mediators can influence whether selfies feature in conversations reinforcing dominant discourses or in counterpublic conversations, contributing to everyday activism that challenges normative gender and sexual discourses.

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ID Code: 94316
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: LGBTQ, platforms, selfies, social media, mobile apps
DOI: 10.1177/2056305116641975
ISSN: 2056-3051
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > COMMUNICATION AND MEDIA STUDIES (200100) > Communication Technology and Digital Media Studies (200102)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > CULTURAL STUDIES (200200) > Culture Gender Sexuality (200205)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Digital Media Research Centre
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Past > Schools > School of Media, Entertainment & Creative Arts
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2016 The Author(s)
Copyright Statement: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 License (http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/) which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).
Deposited On: 30 Mar 2016 03:12
Last Modified: 04 May 2016 22:29

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