Mediated Belief: Queer Youth, Facebook and Faith
Drawing upon the ESRC funded project ‘Making Space for Queer Identifying Religious Youth’, this paper examines Facebook, as well as social networking sites and online environments and communities more generally, engaging with the notion of ‘online embodiment’ (Farquhar, 2012; Taylor et al., 2014). It revisits specific methodological dilemmas in qualitative research with particular groups of young people online, and the gendered dimensions of such quandaries. The lives of young people are increasingly played out online and young LGBTQ Christians are no different. Some have argued that the Internet can offer safe spaces, particularly for people of counter-normative sexualities, to construct an identity, forge connections and articulate voices otherwise subjugated in some offline spaces. The complexities of ‘coming out’ as LGBTQ and religious are explored, in asking how Facebook ‘makes space’ to construct identities, forge connections and articulate voices. An analysis of gendered emotion, embodiment and temporality is engaged with here in order to gauge the opportunities afforded by (dis)embodied online profiles and the spaces and strategies utilised by queer religious youth. This involves examining how the role of (dis)embodiment in the construction of identities through online technology is developed, building upon earlier studies of Facebook to incorporate more recent theories around ‘online embodiment’.