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The New "Gayborhood" : defining and redefining the gay community in a technological age

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The New "Gayborhood" : defining and redefining the gay community in a technological age
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Gallegos, Christopher M.
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Denver, Colo.
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University of Colorado Denver
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Master's ( Master of Social Science)
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University of Colorado Denver
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Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, CU Denver
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Social sciences

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Auraria Library
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University of Colorado Denver Collections
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Copyright CHRISTOPHER M. GALLEGOS. Permission granted to University of Colorado Denver to digitize and display this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.

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Decreased Meaningful Discourse
Along with ambiguity and isolation, general discourse also suffers within this virtual world as social sites and social apps have loosened verbal communication standards for gay men, allowing them to interact in more overtly sexualized ways. Stern and Handel (2001) argue that chat rooms give the user the choice to alter identities in any way they choose, which could lead to a breakdown of interpersonal relationships. Stem and Handel pivot off of earlier research to argue that uninhibited verbal behavior was more common through technology when compared to face-to-face interactions. They also found that non-normative sexual behaviorsheighted promiscuity and higher-risk sexual encounterswere seen to increase in some of the people involved in their research. Joinson (1998) argues that the Internet, and now other forms of social apps, removes social cues and provides an environment that almost encourages a decrease in inhibition. Clipson, Wilson, and DuFrene (2012) support Joinsons argument by stating that the lack of self-censorship can create ill will and hurt feelings, even if that was not the intention because there are little to no consequences in breaking appropriate standards, etiquette, and rules. Lee and Lee (2010) argue that even though online communities have the ability to enhance the communication ability of individuals due to technological advantages, face-to-face communication in the form of a traditional community setting is still needed to maintain the community as a whole.
Conclusion
Throughout this chapter, I have crafted together the works of leading scholars from various academic fields to produce and convey my argument that the more gay men incorporate technology into their daily lives without the idea of creating a healthy hybrid
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community, the more interpersonal relationships have the potential to suffer. I have shown how different theories, when analyzed together, can support a stronger, more cohesive argument that offers real world solutions to readers and future scholars. Looking ahead, I will support my argument by setting up an interdisciplinary approach through political science, sociology, and communication. In Chapter Two, I will offer a brief overview of gay history, starting with the Mattachine Society in the 1950s all the way to present day polling and opinions around gay rights. I will also explain how the political science theory of play influenced the way the gay community developed within larger city settings. In Chapter Three, I will introduce various theories of identity that explain how gay men shaped who they were and what their community wanted to become. This will incorporate the sociological aspect of my research to show why gay men incorporated virtual aspects into day-to-day lives. Chapter Four will highlight the positives and negatives to communicating within a virtual world by introducing technology and social applications and explaining their impact to the gay community as a whole. This chapter will support my argument that too much reliance on social apps has the strong potential to be detrimental to social discourse. Chapter Five will summarize my argument and encourage further research into the LGBTQ community as it relates to the growing inclusion of technology into daily lives.
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CHAPTER II
A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF GAY HISTORY
The Gay Rights Movement is this generations civil rights movement (Canaday, 2009), which includes the push for marriage equality, tax equality, physical safety, and overall acceptance. Given this shift, we can see strong parallels between the Gay Rights Movement and the Civil Rights Movementthe fight to marry, the fight for equal protection under the law, and the breaking of stigmas placed upon a minority community by the heteronormative majority. For gay couples looking for marriage equality, the results of the 2012 election represented a significant ideological shift toward that equality. Not only did the general populous elect a socially progressive president for a second term in 2011, more states began to either overturn same-sex marriage bans or vote to recognize those marriages. Since then, the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in to decide the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans. In June 2015, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that marriage bans were unconstitutional. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion for Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) saying, They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right (p. 33). But even with this progress, there is still a fight to keep the rights gained over the past few decades. In 2016, the most unlikely of outcomes took place on Election Day when Republican nominee Donald J. Trump was elected president. Since then, president-elect Trump has nominated anti-LGBTQ cabinet members raising eyebrows throughout gay communities across the country (Every One of Donald Trumps Cabinet Picks So Far Opposes LGBT Rights, 2016; Potential Trump Cabinet Members Have Deeply Troubling Anti-LGBTQ Records, 2016). These parallelsand many otherscan help and are helping build a
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community where people can come together to overcome the injustices placed upon them, calling for equality from the many for the few. Just as the Civil Rights Movement broke through Middle America and the mainstream media in the 1960s, the Gay Rights Movement is breaking through similar social barriers today. Canaday (2009) argues that [t]he gay experience thus confounds the overall narrative of twentieth century civils rights history, in which the achievement of federal protection is seen as constituting a key moment of arrival (p. 260). Throughout this chapter, I will provide a condensed history of the gay community and of gay culture. In this case, culture and community will be used interchangeably since there is a strong link between community and the culture it absorbs (Castells, 2001).
What is gay culture? Speaking as a former journalist and a gay male, the answer to this question is as individualistic as if you were to ask what it meant to be an American. Gay culture was born out of a common goal: first of survival, then of being understood, and of having its values and beliefs legitimized by the normative society. American solidarity includes gay culture, and it requires the recognition not only of the fact that Americans are a diverse people, but also that they have distinctive ways of belonging in America (Song, 2009, p. 38). But do members of the gay community actually have a sense of belonging in America? Will gays and lesbians ever be held at the same level of equality as their heterosexual peers? In his 2010 State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama called for the repeal of Dont Ask, Dont Tell, which was congressionally repealed later that year. A May 2015 Gallup Poll revealed that 60 percent of Americans supported same-sex marriage, a month before the Supreme Court issued its ruling (McCarthy, 2015). The poll shows that across the political spectrum,
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support for gay marriage has reached new highs, with Democrats at 76 percent support, independents at 64 percent, and Republicans at 37 percent. McCarthy argues that the reason for the large gap among Democrats and Republicans hinges largely on the age groups that compose each party (Record-High 60% of Americans Support Same-Sex Marriage, 2015, U 8). Even though very few Republicans supported same-sex marriage in that survey, their support has nearly doubled since Gallup began polling on the question in 1996. Additionally, the most recent survey found that one in four Americans say political candidates must share their views on gay marriage, up from 16 percent in 2004 and 2008 (Record-High 60% of Americans Support Same-Sex Marriage, 2015,
9). McCarthy argues that the political implications could be significant on a national level for a GOP candidate because of the growing majority support among all Americans. We see evidence of that in the 2016 election. Among the number of insulting and hateful statements made by Republican Candidate Donald J. Trump, Mr. Trump has portrayed himself as a warrior for gays a number of times, including in his nomination acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention (Trump Calls Himself a Champion of Gay Rights. Hang On a Second., 2016, ]j 3). His portrayal is at odds with his stance on gay marriage. Politifact states that Mr. Trump has consistently opposed same-sex marriage in interviews since 2000 and that he supports reversing the Supreme Court marriage equality decision in favor of having states decide on the issue (Donald Trump is against same-sex marriage, 2016, ]j 13-14). Even though polling shows record support for gay marriage, as just mentioned above, there is still plenty of work to be done, especially with a Trump presidency. History shows that, in addition to key legislation,
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grassroots efforts must continue to move the needle of acceptance throughout America as a whole.
Harry Hay would agree. Hay is considered the founder of gay liberation, having started the underground Mattachine Society, the first modern gay-rights organization, in 1950 (Cusac, 1999, p. 1). The Mattachine Society was created to offer a safe place for gay men to meet other gay men, to make a connection as simple as friendship which was otherwise not socially acceptable. Hay was one of the first people to call for equality during a time when it was rare to find anyone who would openly talk about being gay. Any time along the line where we can find a way so that we change something, said Hay, that guy whom you have changed and the other people around him whom you have changed are going to, in turn, change others (cited in Cusac, 1999, p. 10). Hays argument is that an organic form of change, one which comes from authentic connections between two people, will manifest itself and spread outside the initial sphere of influence. Hay wanted gay men to embrace their minority status in an effort to strengthen its community long before it was ever an idea within the movement. Hay wrote, Yet when Stonewall burst open the scene sixteen years later (from the first Mattachine Society meeting), the new brothers and sisters assumed everybody had always known we were a cultural minority since Day One! (p. 11). He argues that external societal pressures, such as politics, economics, and religion, prevented many gay men from accepting who they were. But then an alternate version of what Hay envisioned developed in the 1960s on both U.S. coasts as riots swept New York City in the late-60s while political activism and social building created a gay mecca in San Francisco.
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This urban revolution was a response to a violent, unjust, and oppressive police department, like many in this country, which targeted this particular segment of society. On June 27, 1969, New York City police officers raided the Stonewall Inn, a Manhattan gay bar (Figure 1). The reaction to this routine raid ended in revolutionary fashion. DEmilio (2003) depicts an urban area of decay where people were clamoring for a change. He notes that The Stonewall Inn brought an unruly element to Sheridan Square, a busy Village intersection. Patrons of the Stonewall tended to be young and nonwhite. Many were drag queens, and many came from the burgeoning ghetto of runaways living across town in the East Village (DEmilio, 2003, p. 32). The urban revolution that resulted from being repeatedly targeted by an unjust police force pushed New York City into chaos. Limp wrists were forgotten. Beer cans and bottles were heaved at the windows and a rain of coins descended on the cops... .Almost by signal the crowd erupted into cobblestone and bottle heaving... (DEmilio, 2003, p. 32). The patrons involved in this unjust treatment engaged in a way that not only brought to light the seriousness of their plight, but gave the country and the world an inside look at in the injustice.
Figure 1: Police hold back a crowd while arresting patrons at the Stonewall Inn the night of June 27, 1969. Photo by: Joseph Ambrosini/77?e New York Daily News
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As Fainstein and Fainstein (1985) argue, there are three reasons for conflict: (1)
community control issues, (2) demands on community programs (or the demand not to
take them away), and (3) defense of community areas (p. 190). People involved in the
Stonewall Riots reasonably felt as if their community was under attackit wasforcing
them to react. People began to rise up, ultimately defending the local public space which
the people had built. When these factors come together, urban movements gain results:
At any given time, different urban settings will be more or less conducive to the rise of political factors: (1) the ability of political parties and government institutions to contain and channel mobilizations; (2) the relative receptivity of local regimes to action group formation and pressure; (3) the unity of urban elites; and (4) the availability of alternative political ideas that can create an oppositional consciousness among a significant sector of the citizenry. (Fainstein & Fainstein, 1985, p. 192)
As Piven and Cloward (1979) explain, community unrest happens when the social
structure that has been created as the collective norm fractures. Riots, in their view,
should be seen as tool to seek economic and social change. Under certain social
conditions, riots and disruptions, for some, are the only form of political expression:
This argues that it not only requires a major social dislocation before protest can emerge, but that a sequence or combination of dislocations probably must occur before the anger that underlies protest builds to a high pitch, and before that anger can find expression in collective defiance. (Piven & Cloward, 1979, p. 8)
Florida (2011) argues the cities themselves create these revolutionary tendencies, and its
those very same mechanisms that unleash our innovative and artistic energies also make
cities veritable cauldrons, in which political energy and activism are pressured and
brought to a boil (How Cities Stir Revolution, ]j 3). Social upheaval is also a reaction
from a group of people who say enough is enough, which tends to ignite movements
that were kept in the closet for fear of persecution. Once these riots begin, especially if
they are successful word spreads quickly:
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Word of the Stonewall riot and GLF [Gay Liberation Front] spread rapidly among the networks of young radicals scattered across the country, and within a year gay liberation groups had sprung into existence on college campuses and in cities around the nation. (DEmilio, 2003, p. 33)
What was solely a subaltern groupa group without a voice in the political
conversationgrasped for leverage in the U.S. political and cultural system through
revolutionary actions. In other words, Stonewall... .marked a critical divide in the
politics and consciousness of homosexuals and lesbians (DEmilio, 2003, p. 37). But
that is not the only way the gay community reacted to the oppression hurled at them from
law enforcement and the broader public.
On the West Coast, a small enclave of this subaltern community was continuing
to reinvent and transform itself within one of the biggest American cities. The Castro
District in San Francisco demonstrates how a community can, against social norms,
become a geographic world capital for a small, yet significant, segment of society. At the
core of searching for self-reliance, spatial concentration is a fundamental characteristic
of the gay liberation movement in San Francisco, which makes it more than a human
rights movement trying to end legal discrimination on the basis of sexual preference
(Castells, 2001, p. 181). The Castro District, like many other gay enclaves, is a direct
response from a population that was, and continues to be, marginalized. Before there was
a national movement for equality, there was a foundationliterally and figuratively
created within major cities like San Francisco. Castells (2011) explains, Within the cities
they traced boundaries and created their own territory. These boundaries expanded with
the increasing capacity of gay people to defend themselves and to build up a series of
autonomous institutions (p. 181).
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Figure 2: Openly gay San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk rides in a car during a San Francisco Pride Parade in the 1970s. Photo by: Terry Schmitt
In San Francisco, the development of the Castro District sought to build community and solidarity over a particular part of the city that gay men could call their own (Figure 2). This quest to be with like-minded people spawned from the thought that as long as gays are beaten and killed because of whom they love, even in a city where they share institutional power, they will need the ghetto (Castells, 2001, p. 205). In the endor maybe in the beginningin order for the gay community to evolve and thrive, it needed to find space to call its own.
Claiming Public Space
Finding physical, geographic space was not an easy task. It was, however, an important step in creating and maintaining the gay community. Each gay community, according to Castells, had their own process for claiming this space, a process that was in some cases very public. For example, in the East Village of New York City, the community took to the streets after years of police authoritarianism. In San Francisco, the gay community literally claimed a neighborhood as their own, selecting a part of the city that was rundown and not quite as important to the heterosexual majority, creating
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geographic boundaries and creating a geographic territory (Castells, 2001, p. 181). These boundaries and territories were created in the form of neighborhoods that sprouted up across the country within major metropolitan areas. Castells (2001) explains the importance of creating these types of boundaries by quoting Harry Britt, a political activist within the San Francisco community, who says, When gays are spatially scattered, they are not gay, because they are invisible (p. 181). Creating that space was a crucial step within the gay community because it acted as a way for gay men to express who they werea sort of coming out of the closet that visually confronted the stigma levied against them by the citys majority (Castells, 2001). That coming out of the gay community was also a way to vocally advocate for increased rights. Castells (2001) argues, The gay culture has been able to enrich the urban culture because it has been able to substantially modify the political system (p. 211). This impact did not come without its fair amount of challenges. But because of a general call for equal rights on a local level, there slowly developed an understanding of where the majority and minority groups stood.
Like any understanding, however, there are systemic flaws in how these rights can end up being stated. These rights often protect the privileged over the oppressed and minorities, creating an us vs. them scenario, hence the formation of the gay enclave. Rights can also be situationally-based; usually addressing specific social situations or political movements (Mitchell, 2003, p. 23), such as the city of Denver imposing harsh anti-camping laws against the citys homeless population (Dykes, 2014). Mitchell (2003) describes the struggle for rights as a producer of space, something we see within the gay community, particularly since the Stonewall Riots. Once space is created, there is a
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continued struggle over equal space and enforcing the rights of all people. Mitchell argues, Social action is structured through law, and social action creates abstract or differentiated spaces in proportion to the power possessed by each side in a struggle (p. 29). Mitchell takes this argument a step further by introducing geographer David Smiths argument that exposing the geography of injustice is essential to developing social structures that are more just (cited in Mitchell, 2003, p. 30). Therefore, rights need to be expressed in specific places that are either designated or taken by those in conflict: More and more the spaces of the modem city are being produced for us rather than by us. People.. .have the right to more; they have the right to the oeuvre [a work in which all the citys citizens participate] (cited in Mitchell 2003, p. 18). Harvey (2003) argues that citizens have indisputable rights to city centers, giving them collective ownership to create an inclusive community for all walks of life. Moreover, he argues that shaping power over the processes of urbanization, over the ways in which our cities are made and re-made must be done in a fundamental and radical way (Harvey, 2003, p. 2). The gay community took it upon themselves to revolutionize their space, remaking and reshaping what was thereparades, neighborhood watches, and store fronts, to name a fewinto something that was inclusive. Parades within the gay community, for example, became more than a just a celebration of an event or a holiday. The gay pride parade became a symbol of self-expression, mixing loud colors, powerful music, and the occasional nudity. Through this self-expression, the gay community commandeered their right to a part of the city and gained it through various actions and modifications of heteronormative events and structures that may not have been socially acceptable. Harvey adds, The freedom to make and remake ourselves and our cities is.. .one of the most
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precious yet most neglected of our human rights (p. 1). Community alone is not the only thread that weaves the pieces together for the advancement of social norms and acceptance from the community and the state. Play was and is vital to the progression of gay culture.
Creating Community through Play
Within any gay district, such as the Castro District in San Francisco, the West Village in New York City, or Boys Town in Chicago, the idea of having funconveying who you are through a very personalized, extravagant wayis an unspoken yet accepted requirement. This requirement circles back to the development of the Castro District. The Castro was one of a very small handful of places where you were encouraged to be yourself. Castells argues that big cities like San Francisco offered gay men the opportunity to enjoy life, turn oppression into creation, and subvert established values by emphasizing their ridiculous aspects. Bars, feasts, and celebrations should be, they believe, the nest of gay culture, as they are one of the primary sources of a vibrant city life (Castells, 2001, p. 185). San Francisco, thus, became a refuge for gay men who no longer had a home, as many gay men were no longer welcomed by their birth families. San Francisco ultimately became a melting pot of different backgrounds and viewpoints, enriching the urban culture because it has been able to substantially modify the political system (Castells, 2001, p. 211). What made the modified political system successful was utilizing what scholars call the theory of play. Cassegard defines play as not being the opposite of reality, as is often asserted, but the opposite of powerlessness. Play arises when the feeling of powerlessness is overcome (2012, p. 10). For Cassegard, this sense of empowerment is instrumental for giving the disenfranchised hope and empowerment
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while building self-confidence: Empowerment occurs when people regain the sense that their actions and opinions matter and that they have the power to influence things in society which they deem to be important (2012, p. 2). Play is still an overriding theme that helped not only shape the community it is today, but change the minds of those who may have frowned upon the gay community. This form of playthe use of music and danceis a way for gays and lesbians to forget about their daily troubles and to focus on the good that can come out of their neighborhood, the art they can produce for their neighbors and for the world:
Play is important for empowerment since it mitigates the tension between abstract and concrete modes of interaction, providing relief to the subaltern from the pressures of mainstream society and helping them regain a sense of agency.
Play .... should not be understood as necessarily separated from reality, but as the opposite of powerlessness. (Cassegard, 2012, p. 2)
Play is much more than just throwing a party and having fun. For Cassegard, play creates an alternative space that offers a sanctuary or a sense of relief for the subalterns from the oppressiveness of mainstream society: It can thus mean playing with reality, something which I suggest occurs in particularly empowering moments in street parties and demonstrations (Cassegard, 2012, p. 2). We see this in the formation of the Castro District, where a group of gay men took over an area that had been neglected, an area that nobody wanted, and created their own city within a city: To contribute to empowerment, such spaces need to be able to provide shelters to the subaltern from the pressures of mainstream society but they also need to consolidate themselves and to be bases for social change (Cassegard, 2012, p. 11). The Castro provided shelter and space for the gay community to develop and grow. The district was also a safe haven during times of crisis such as the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s (Eaklor, 2008). Throughout it all, play was
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integral in maintaining and developing the gay community into what it is today. In order to develop that original foundational support, Cassegard argues the gay community needed to temporary withdrawal from the greater society in order to become self-liberated, gain power, and define themselves. Castells agrees, arguing that [t]he gay community is one of the main organizers of popular celebrations in San Francisco, some of which come from the merchants interests that provide the economic support for the community... (2001, p. 209). Once that happened, Cassegard states they needed to return to mainstream society to foster social change, encouraging different communities to accept them.
Conclusion
While the Castro was being developed with a focus on gay-owned shops and gay-themed entertainment, gay men in San Francisco were still faced with major social barriers that they needed to overcome. As Castells points out, in order to be a society within a society, there needed to be a sense of organization that would transform the oppression into something more. What spawned from this insulation was the politicization of the gay movement and a transition into a strategic approach to political and social reforms in San Francisco and across the country. This chapter is not meant to be a detailed history of a group that is still making strides politically and socially even as pushback is currently taking place within todays political climate with president-elect Trumps cabinet nominations and a vice president-elect who has a deep history of anti-LGBTQ policies. The purpose of this chapter is to give the reader a basic understanding of gay history and some of the struggles that gay men and lesbian women went through to get us to where the community is today. But looking at what makes up the geographic
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history of a community only goes so far. To get a more in-depth look at what creates a community, we need to take into consideration what brings certain people together. On a superficial level, being a gay male or a lesbian woman would inherently bring you closer to other likeminded people. When we analyze social theory, however, there is much more of explanation beyond sexual orientation. Even though these neighborhoods developed out of a common goal, how people chose to identify with one another helped fostered a community that was able to flourish and make social changes.
In order to better support my argument, the following chapter will introduce various theories of identity to explain how gay men shaped who they were and what their community wanted to become. Chapter Four will incorporate communications, technology, and social applications showing their impact on the gay community.
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CHAPTER III
THEORIES OF IDENTITY
A typical city has a network of neighborhoods that develop from a city center, creating enclaves for different cultural groups that provide the city and adjoining neighborhoods with specific services and industry. For example, many cities are sectioned into different zones, including different levels of industry, commercial use, and residential. The creation of neighborhoods is a visual expression of particular settlement and is the basis of an underlying social structure (Castells, 2001, p. 20). As Castells notes, these neighborhoods tend to provide their residents with a sense of comfort and security, and they often express the general dynamic of the city itself. This chapter will focus on why gay-specific neighborhoods were born as a direct response to the dominant group by a marginalized population that had been emotionally devitalized through social inequalities and injustices (Taylor, 2000, p. 271). In San Francisco, for example, the development of the Castro District allowed gay men to mentally and emotionally grow alongside like-minded people (Castells, 2001, p. 205). Throughout this chapter, I will review research using identity theory and social identity theorywhich includes aspects of collective identity theory and self-categorization theoryto explain how gay and lesbian communities and neighborhoods were formed and why they are important identifiers for the gay community.
Today, we still see gay enclaves throughout the countrys various cities, for example, but the overt segregation that created the original ghettoes like the Castro in San Francisco are slowly becoming less evident as more cities and states pass equal protection laws. As mention in Chapter Two, the most recent Gallup Poll showed 60
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percent of Americans supported same-sex marriage (McCarthy, 2015). That is a seven percent increase from the previous poll conducted in 2013 and a 16 percent increase from a 2010 poll (Jones, 2013). Social changes like these are rooted in the evolution of the gay community as it has responded to the larger society in which it belongs. To explain how the identity of the gay and lesbian community and its individual participants formed and evolved, I will now define and explain identity theory and social identity theory, which includes the supporting components of collective identity theory and self-categorization theory.
Identity Theory and Social Identity Theory
Identity theory and social identity theory are often used interchangeably (Stets & Burke, 2000). Identity theory, a concept originated by Stryker (2008), is defined as various identities that comprise the self, which exist within a hierarchy of importance (salience). The person who develops these various identities tends to rank them by frequency of use or which ones will be used more frequently in situations that involve different parts of the self (Stryker 2008; Desrochers, Andreassi & Thompson, 2004). Identity theorists argue that a person retains a number of identities, each of which is based on occupying a particular role (Stryker, 1968; Stryker & Burke, 2000; Davenport, 2016). That distinction is important in defining the gay community because gay men have often had to project varying identities based on public and private situations. And, one could argue, that gay men still are doing that today in regards to the geographic and virtual communities in which they reside. Davenport (2016) supports my argument, stating, Individuals are performers in particular roles, and the meanings associated with identities are learned from the reflected appraisals of others (p. 60). The way gay men
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are judged within certain social situationsboth gay and straighthave only helped develop and define their identities. But identity theory alone does not adequately define the self, especially when it comes to the gay community.
Stets and Burke (2000) argue that identity theory and social identity theory should be viewed as a combination to provide a more absolute theory of the self. For them, there are three areas that are crucial to linking the two theories. First, acknowledging that categories and groups (social identity theory) and roles (identity theory) are, at the core, the same. The second area is the use of salience in both theories. And third, Stets and Burke argue that in order to actively engage with ones identity, a person must go through a basic process that leads to similar conclusionsdepersonalization (social identity theory) vs. self-verification (identity theory) and self-esteem (social identity theory) vs. self-efficacy (identity theory). The three areas above lead to a definition that combines social identity theory and identity theory, where the self is reflexive in that it can take itself as an object and can categorize, classify, or name itself in particular ways in relation to other social categories or classifications... .Through the process of self-categorization or identification, an identity is formed (Stets & Burke, 2000, p. 224). The reason both authors are pushing for a more comprehensive and cohesive definition of the two theories is that one group can be evaluated in two separate ways which leads to separate conceptualizations and understandings. By taking a more interdisciplinary approach with these two theories of identity, we can deduce in greater certainty how the gay community was created and how it is maintained. The gay communityas with any communityis complex and the identity lens in which one evaluates it must be reflective in complexity.
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Stets and Burke (2000) agree, arguing that a merging of the two theories will give theorists a deeper understanding on macro-, meso-, and micro-level social processes.
Stryker (2000) argues that identity theory and social identity theory are interchangeable since both theories deal with conflicts that stem from in-group/out-group categories. For my argument and for the purpose of this thesis, social identity theory represents a better way of defining and explaining how gay communities and neighborhoods were created and are maintained. Because of this, I will use social identity theory when referencing Stryker and his article. Stryker claims there are four implications of social identity and identity saliencethe likelihood an identity will come into play in a variety of situations as a function of its properties as a cognitive schema (p. 28). The four are: (1) cognitive schemas can be situational; (2) identities can be self-reinforcing; (3) identities are motivational; and (4) identities can influence action independent of the commitments affecting them (p. 28). The reason there are four implications, according to Stryker, is to have a sense of variability because participation within the social structure is variable. He argues that a theory based on a cultural conception of identity or a theory invoking collective identities are not sufficient enough to define a social movement or a social cause (p. 29). He goes on to argue that the internal hierarchy of social identity and identity salience is different from person to person, making ones commitment to a group, such as the gay community, different from his or her counterpart. Those differences are based on a number of different factors that are better accounted for through a connected approach. Stryker also looks at the group as a whole, suggesting there are varying degrees of groupness and that identity changes throughout the life of a movement (p. 30). An interesting point that Stryker makes is that of choice and commitment. Stryker argues that
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commitment is a choice that an individual makes, adding that in-group and out-group commitments can vary in depth depending on the identity salience given to each individual group.
As I work to include social identity theory into my argument, there is a gap that needs to be documented. Huddy (2001) explains this gap best by examining social identity theory and criticizing it for its limited impact due to the lack of acknowledgement of historical and cultural complications by theorists. His criticisms explain the formation of social identity theory as a concept where people assume a group label through a form of membership where they categorize themselves as such and internalize the group label and their social identity. Recognizing historical components can further offer researchers a better understanding of the outside influences that accompany identity. Huddy singles out four issues that have hindered the successful application of social identity theory. The first is that there is an existence of identity choice, meaning that there are instances where people are no longer assigned their identity due to historical shifts (Huddy, 2001, p. 137). The second is that identity meanings are subjective and personal. Third, there are degrees of identity strength within different groups and among individual actors (p. 145). Finally, there is a question regarding the stability of social and political identities and how often they are relied upon for action (p. 147). He concludes with a few ways theorists can apply social identity theory arguing that there needs to be a greater scope of real-world identities studiedon a group and individual leveland an acknowledgement that individual differences will never fully explain identity development even if more focus is given to an interrelated process (Huddy, 2001).
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Collective Identity Theory
Collective identity theory is important to look at because of its colorful history within social movements, which will help answer why gay communities and neighborhoods exist. Theorists like Polletta and Jasper (2001) have studied social movements through collective identity theory. They defined the theory as an individuals cognitive, moral, and emotional connection with a broader community, category, practice, or institution (p. 285). In the past, collective identity theory had been either too broadly or narrowly applied, causing disjointed results and pushing theorists to look at other explanations. Theorists credit the social movements of the 80s and the 90s (the gay movement in particular) for bringing collective identity theory back in favor. Currently, theorists are turning to collective identity theory to answer four questions: (1) Why collective actors come into being when they do? (2) What motivates people to act? (3) What are the movements strategic choices? and (4) How to capture changes in collective identities? You can find answers to the above questions layered within the gay community, most of which are centered on the motivation to create an enclave and maintain that safe space. Polletta and Jasper (2001) describe collective identity as imagined as well as concrete communities, and it is fluid and relational, emerging out of interactions with a number of different audiences. They stress it is not a sum of a persons identity and does not represent ideological commitment to a particular movement. It does, however, mean that a person can have identities of varying strengths based on the interaction, similar to identity theory mentioned above.
The concept of collective identity through social movements has emerged and has become an important tool for examining the way social injustices are translated into the
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everyday lives of the actors (Taylor, 2000, p. 271). Simon, Loewy, Sturmer, Weber, Freytag, Habig, Kampmeier, and Spahlinger (1998) also link collective identity with social movements, arguing that members of disadvantaged groups who are not satisfied with their given roles by the dominant group must find their own ways to improve their situation. They compared two studiesthe older peoples movement in Germany and the U.S. gay movement through a qualitative questionnaire over an unspecified period of timein an attempt to move to a more causal analysis of role-identification in social movement practice. Both studies measured identification with a broad social category, identification with the movement, a collective motive, a social motive, the reward motive and their willingness to participate in the movement. Simon, et al. (1998) found that the willingness to participate in collective action was significantly related to collective identification, both at the level of the broader recruitment category and at the level of the specific social movement (p. 650). They also found that identification on the social movement level helped retain predictive value when the three motivescollective, social, and rewardwere included. This is important because when people identified with a particular social movement, it prompted them to participate in one form or another. In terms of my study, when gay men found themselves in a gay district associating with other gay men, they were able to put a collective voice to one message and bring others to their cause.
Simon, Trotschel, and Dahne (2007) analyzes two studies conducted to gauge current students attitudes toward international conflict resolutions and peace policies. These studies explain collective identity in conjunction with identity affirmation within social movements. The support of the social movement is the enactment of a particular
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politicized group or social category membership, and collective identification operates as the basic social psychological process underlying movement support (Simon & Klandermans, 2001). To show this, Simon et al. (2007) argue that the mobilizing power of collective identification derives at least partly from identity affirmation processes (p. 936). What they found was that people who strongly identified with the peace movement showed more identity-affirming behavior such as donating more money to an organization when identity-relevant doubts or feelings of guilt were highlighted. When those who identified with a group did not feel a sense of urgency or an inherent need to show their support, mobilization was limited.
As a construct of collective identity, different emotions play an important role within social movements. Taylor (2000) focuses on how the postpartum self-help groups advance care throughout a male-dominated social structure while promoting female bonding, how these groups increase desirable self-identities, and how the collective identity is promotes an alternative view of mothering (p. 276). Though it may seem out of place, there is a correlation. The last point of Taylors argument is crucial to social movements such as the gay movement. Taylor uses this movement to show how collective identity promotes and encourages women to share common experiences of subordination, particularly in regards to gender (Taylor 2000, p. 278). Taylor adds that the importance of collective identity is enhanced through the lens of social movement and social activism (p. 272). She notes that in order for a group to find collective solutions, social movements must seek out the similarities among its members that would represent the group as a whole (p. 279). This is particularly important for the gay community because shared emotional experiences often encourage people to come together. For
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example, when 49 people were killed and 53 were injured on June 12, 2016, at Pulse, a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, gay communities around the world came together to honor the victims and share the emotion left by that atrocity. Gay men were able to come together to share similar emotional stories and scars given to them by family, friends, and society of being targeted for simply being gay.
Self-Categorization Theory
The theory of self-categorization is a way to explain why people consciously decide to categorize or place themselves into a particular group that is often in contrast or in competition with a dominant group (Stryker, 2000, p. 24). Feilding and Hogg (1997) describe self-categorization as a way leadership ultimately gamers a following. They argue that the strength of a group grows as more people strongly identify themselves with a specified group. This form of identity categorization is something we readily see throughout the history of the gay community. Gay individuals make the conscious choice to categorize themselves with a particular group. This is not to say that being gay is a choice. Rather, I argue that social norms created by a particular community are adopted at the choice of the individual. These social norms and social influences highlight an important aspect of self-categorization theory because they help explain how an individual defines the self, how deeply one wants to categorize themselves within a particular community, and the extent of engagement one chooses to take.
For theorists like Oldmeadow, Platow, Foddy, and Anderson (2003), social influences shape the core of self-categorization. Two aspects of social structure that stand out to Oldmeadow et al. are social status and shared group membership, both of which can influence social situations based on assumed expectations. They argue that
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people are influenced frequently by members of their own social groups or categories, not because those individuals are experts but because they are similar to themselves in important ways (p. 138). The reasoning is that many people develop personal beliefs and perceptions based on other in-group members, everything from immediate family to political activist groups, and there is an expectation that these ideas and beliefs are common among all participants. In their research, self-categorization is not a new theory, but an expansion of social identity theory, and their concept of self-categorization still relies on an in-group/out-group categorization. Overall, the purpose of their argument is to compare self-categorization theory with status characteristic theory, which is most important when looking at the development and maintenance of the LGBT community as an application of self-categorization theory. What they found was that self-categorization generated expectations of competence through social influences within the two group sets (Oldmeadow et al., 2003).
The social influence of language is an important component of ones identity, especially when disenfranchised groups develop and adopt their own slang using the dominant language as the overarching foundation. Reid, Keerie, and Palomares (2003) capitalize on the opportunity to showcase how language use is influenced by gender through self-categorization. Within the gay community, members unconsciously use tentative language, such as tag questions (ending a statement with a question of confirmation), hedges (including short phrases that imply self-doubt) and disclaimers (outwardly acknowledging even the slightest lack of knowledge) (Reid et al., 2003, p. 210-211). Their study concludes that minority groups unconsciously use this type of language to confirm the heterosexual, male-dominated social structure in order to gain
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greater social influence. Self-categorization theory emphasizes the consideration of historical and contextually relevant basis for social comparisons as pertaining to men and women. As Reid et al. argue, Self-categorization theory is a social-cognitive approach to understanding the genesis of collective behavior (p. 215). The theory reinforces that all collective behavior is a subjective self-definition shift from self as an individual to self as a group member. It is not a depersonalization or a loss of the self; rather, it is a development of a shared identity. Self-categorization can be helpful in these contexts because it can determine how a male or a female might communicatively interact with one another given the identity salience of the interaction. On a broader sense, selfcategorization can help explain and determine how gay and lesbian group members and a presumed straight society might communicatively interact.
Conclusion
The theories described in this chapter should allow the reader to evaluate identify theory and social identity theory, as well as the components that make up social identity theorynamely collective identity theory and self-categorization theoryto explain how and why gay and lesbian communities and neighborhoods formed and to ultimately evaluate important identifiers for the LGBT community. Because of the inherently strong connection between social identity within the gay community and the need for a collective identity, these theories offer the tools to maintain the present geographic community. But that only satisfies a part of what the gay community has become. There is a virtual element that has created a sub-community that also relies heavily on these identity theories. With that, the individual needs to take an active role in combining these two worlds to create one identity. But how can these two worlds become linked? One
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way the gay community has already started on this process is the claiming of public spacesgeographically making parts of the city their own and claiming aspects of the virtual world as gay-friendly outlets for people to express who they are in a variety of ways.
So far, I have introduced a brief overview of gay history and the theory of play in Chapter Two. Throughout this chapter, I have explained various theories of identity to argue how gay men shaped who they were and what their community wanted to become. The next chapter will incorporate communications, technology, and social applications showing their impact on the gay community. Finally, I will conclude by rephrasing my argument and suggesting additional research to encourage parity among the other letters within the LQBTQ acronym.
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CHAPTER IV
TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIAL APPS
Technology is changing faster and faster every year. It seems that there is always something newer and better being offered to the consumer. There are so many options that technology has changed the way people communicate with each other. Baym (2010) states, it took developers of what became the Internet almost no time to develop platforms for group communication (p. 72). Because of this rapid advancement, people today have a number of ways to communicate with each other, which encompasses everything from face-to-face communication, letter writing, telephony communication, and electronic correspondence. It is that last form of communicationelectronic correspondencethat has spurred this thesis and has prompted the question: when does the digital world become detrimental to a community? Baym would argue that technology has not hurt communities, but rather has helped by allowing online groups to develop a strong sense of group membership allowing them to discuss shared interests regardless of location (p. 72). Initially, it was this shared interest that brought the gay community together, allowing gay men to find others who wanted to advance social acceptance and inclusion within a heteronormative society. As I stated in my introduction, I argue that while the Internet and social applications have improved inclusivity among gay men, those same mediums have also allowed the traditional definition of community fragment into a geographic and coexisting virtual community, and, in the process has clouded the interpersonal skills needed to sustain a working, progressive community. In this chapter, I will offer a brief overview of social media and an abstract view of the theory of discourse ethics in order to comprehensively argue that
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negative aspects of the virtual worldincreased ambiguity, decreased interpersonal relationships through increased isolation, and decreased meaningful discoursehave created a community that has become fractured due to the integration and broad acceptance of the virtual world.
Before we go any further, I want to review some key terms that will be used throughout this chapter. First, references to the Internet will broadly encompass any connection made through a virtual connection, including social media. I will use the definition of the Internet provided by Brown, Maycock, and Burns (2005), who describe the Internet as a setting where people can engage in specific or general social interactions, giving them the ability to seek out information, knowledge, and perspective. Brown, et al. further define the Internet as having multiple settings, offering a range of specialised [sic] chat rooms, bulletin boards, and other settings, each possibly developing its own cultural rules and norms among very specific subcultures and groups (p. 71).
Second, as mentioned in my introduction, I will use the term social applications, or simply apps, to reference programs that can be downloaded to a smart phone or tablet. Using the definition provided by Gray (2014) in my introduction, social applications are defined as a specialized program that can be downloaded onto a mobile device, such as a smartphone (p. 1). In particular, the focus will be on a handful of networking and dating apps that are being used to facilitate communication among gay men (Figure 3). For example, Grindrthe worlds largest gay social networking app describes itself as a state of mind, a way of lifea new kind of dating experience (Grindr Meet Guys Near You, n.d.). The company adds, Whether youre traveling, new in town, or just hanging out at home, Grindrs the fastest, easiest, and most fun way
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to connect with the biggest network of nearby guys. According to Grindr.com, the end goal is to encourage men to meet in person, thus turning off the app to enjoy the conversation and social interaction. Again, even though these apps allow men and women to connect utilizing their smartphones or tablets, they are not the only avenues being used. These apps simply represent a segment of the entire virtual world with a focus on showing how people have shied away from a neighborhood setting to connect with others.
Figure 3: A marketing photo from Grindr.com. The platform above has a similar look to other gay dating apps.
Finally, as mentioned throughout this thesis and in an effort to continue keeping my argument focused, I will use the term gay men instead of the LGBTQ community as there is already heavy emphasis within research on the gay male population. This is not meant to ignore specific information that may or may not pertain to bisexual, transgendered, and questioning individuals and is not meant to diminish the importance of those marginalized groups.
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What is Social Media?
Technology has come a long way in a short period of time, instantly connecting people who may otherwise not be able to meet face-to-face. Part of that technology that is connecting people is social media and social applications, commonly found through the Internet or on a smart phone. From the early days of the Internet to interpersonal, non-mediated, and mass forms of media, social media can be defined with a broad definition (Rasmussen, 2011, p. 223). On the most basic level, social media gives the individual the ability to correspond and share ideas, thoughts, news, facts, and fiction with friendsor followerswho have some sort of interest, whether that be a personal or sexual connection. On a formal level, Kaplan and Haenlein (2010) define social media as a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content (p. 60). Web 2.0 is a loosely defined intersection of web application features that encourages online participatory information sharing, user-centered design, and collaboration. Some examples of Web 2.0 applications are Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Google+, and YouTube.
Participants use social media for a number of different purposes, including for business, personal, social, and political reasons. Businesses are expanded across a number of platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, to market their product or brand. Twitter describes itself as a real-time information network that connects an individual to the latest stories, ideas, opinions and news about what you find interesting (Twitter.com, n.d.). Programs such as Facebook are used to share photos, stories, ideas, and general thoughts that are personal and self-reflective. Facebook describes its mission
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as giving people the power to share and make the world more open and connected (Facebook.com, n.d.). Other platforms, such as Myspace, Google+, and YouTube, provide the public with similar results. The above programsand others not mentionedare monetarily free for the average user. Each offers the ability to create a highly personalized experience connecting individuals to others they may or may not know, thus giving them the chance to meet and/or talk to someone they may never have had the chance to interact with in the past. These platforms also allow consumers to become co-creators of the software, content, artifacts, services offered through these different mediums.
Veil, Sellnow, and Petrun (2012) argue that social media provides the conduit for a story to go viral, giving a particular story or theme to be seen worldwide through the sharing of the information from a simple push of a button. With the increased blurring of the public and private communications sectors within and outside of organizations, the question of whose interests are represented and whose are marginalized become increasingly important and difficult to answer (Boyd & Waymer, 2011, p. 476). Rasmussen (2011) adds that this discourse is important in leveling the virtual playing field, ensuring all participants start from an equal foundation. He argues, One of the implications of this co-creation, prosumption, or peer-production is that (more or less) self-organizing groups of individuals are gaining competitive advantages over firms (Rasmussen, 2011, p. 224). In other words, social media gives every user equal power, ability, and discourse not only to make a statement, but to potentially make a difference.
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This power is heavily influenced by the language used through various types of communication: Language is a significant element in the way we shape our understandings of reality; as humans change the way they talk about things, their beliefs attitudes, and actions also change (Swartz, Campbell, & Pestana, 2009, p. 107). For example, the way the gay community started talking about themselvesboth through traditional media such as television, movies, and radio, and through social media platformschanged the way others outside and within the gay community thought about themselves. Swartz et al. (2009) continue by explaining that communication and power are woven together in that communication works in productive ways to generate knowledge and to produce relations of power within which all people participate (p.
118). The public also sees examples within Hollywood movies, through ultraconservative church messages, and through other uses of social media. It is the latter, however, that has been able to increase general accessibility to the world, thus making it a smaller, more inclusive community. A by-product of a growing virtual world is increased discourse, empowering people to question authority, engage within civic discourse, and, if needed, take action into their own hands by physically and metaphorically revolting to bring about make change.
Putting the Dialogue in Discourse Ethics The idea of increased discourse can be explained through discourse ethics. Introduced by Habermas in 1983, discourse ethics is his attempt to argue in favor of bringing more voices to the table, eventually coming to a decision that there needs to be a solution for the collective majority:
For unless discourse ethics is undergirded by the thrust of motives and by socially accepted institutions, the moral insights it offers remain ineffective in
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practice. Insights, Hegel rightly demands, should be transformable into the concrete duties of everyday life. This much is true: any universalistic morality is dependent upon a form of life that meets it halfway. There has to be a modicum of congruence between morality and the practices of socialization and education. (Habermas, 1990, p. 207)
Habermas argues that discourse brings justice and solidarity to the normative majority. His argument, however, is not a majority rules situation. The purpose is to present a wide variety of ideas from different sources and backgrounds to come to a collective agreement by attempting to establish ethical and normative truths through impartial judgment. Those collective agreementsand those truthscan be found through social media, such as Twitter and Facebook. Being able to create an exchange of ideas through hashtags (key words or abbreviated words following the # symbol), creating lists for people for quick references, being able to follow or be followed by people all over the world, expanding the virtual reach exponentially, and sharing photos at the click of a button have helped spread discourse faster than ever before. Social media like Twitter and Facebook allow people to continue to question the wrong in order to work toward what is ethical. For example, social media was able to create and provide a static record of that activity, permitting later access and greater accessibility to those engaged in the revolutionary style activism and activity. This freedom of communication allows people from around the world to connect in a way that often had been hindered in places that obstruct open communication, allowing for international intervention and condemnation (Teeni, 2011). Discourse ethics, through the use of social media, has given likeminded individuals the opportunity to find one another and come to the figurative table to create a dialogue that would help them organize their message, giving the masses a reliable sense of open communication. Social media has
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allowed discourse among populations where sometimes being openly gay could have severe societal consequences. But how does this growing virtual community begin to redefine a geographic community? At what point does this growing virtual community overtake the geographic community in a way that negatively impacts discourse?
Technology and Social Apps and the Creation of a New Community
As technology has evolved, so have the ways of connectivity. Because of this progression, we now live in an era where we are connected anywhere and everywhere, with ease. This ease of connectedness has systematically reduced the social requirements for interpersonal relationships to develop, allowing for more influence and validity within the virtual community structure that is largely unrestrained and uncoordinated (Meisenbach & Feldner, 2011, p. 565). In other words, there are less social restrictions within the virtual community, giving more people the opportunity to participate. This participation allowed the gay community to embrace its virtual community with open arms. For example, a February 2013 study found that two-thirds of the 537 gay men surveyed use dating apps to find long-term potential partners (Anonymous, 2013). That same study found that gay men are becoming more reliant on apps to connect to other singleand sometimes not-so-singlemen for relationships. The survey concluded that more than half of respondents said they use dating apps in public, close to 80 percent said that apps help them to start a conversation that they would not have otherwise initiated in a public setting, and more than half said that dating apps are not friendly, when compared to dating websites (Anonymous, 2013). The study, though meant to show growing general support for social apps and within society as a whole, brings to light some of the challenges that the virtual world possesses for the group of participants looking to make a
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meaningful interpersonal connection. Meaningful interpersonal connections, as defined by Davies and Aron (2016), means having a greater degree of intimacy within relationships that allows more serious and nuanced discussions about individual and group issues, such as the Black Lives Matter movement, income equality, or gay marriage.
As mentioned previously, there are a number of positives that come with this virtual world, including having an equitable platform and voice for all groups. Brown, Maycock, and Burns (2005) argue that for marginalized groups, the Internet, social applications, and social media has the capacity to remove barriers associated with geography, age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and so on (p. 63). Brown, et al. further explain the appeal of the Internet to gay men is because, until relatively recently, there were few places in which that population can meet without fear of negative social consequences (p. 63). That being said, as Nie (2001) so eloquently phrases, Whatever wonderful things the wired and wireless will bring, a hug is not one of them (p. 434). While there are many positives that accompany this virtual community, there are plenty of negative aspects that need to be considered, such as increased ambiguity, decreased interpersonal relationships through increased physical isolation, and decreased face-to-face discourse.
Ambiguity
In general, the Internet is seen as an environment in which to interact and socialize, especially for the gay community. This virtual world has created a community of its own, but are participants in this community representing themselves in a way that is negatively impacts interpersonal communication with those they interact with? Or are
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they knowingly engaging with others in an effort to remain ambiguous? Rose, et al. (2012) argues, With the emergence of social media websites, such as Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace, users have an online platform that allows them to communicate widely, to virtually manage others impressions of them, and to even express gendered identities in cyberspace (p. 589). Rose, et al. suggests that a varying level of ambiguity allows ones self to be more pliable, allowing for a strategic way of presenting oneself to the virtual community. Though their argument is based on the gender differences within social media, there is a strong correlation to the use of social applications within the gay community. Research by Brown, Maycock, and Bums (2005) shows that gay men view and engage with the Internet differently compared to how they view and engage with other more traditional gay spaces, such as community centers or bars. Brown, et al.
(2005) examined the usage patterns of chat rooms and other social aspects of the Internet by gay men in Western Australia in regards to meeting sexual partners. The researchers came to the conclusion that men approach sex differently, influenced by the type of interaction, either online or face-to-face, how that interaction progresses, and how certain assumptions and expectations are built and expounded. Certain characteristics are often exaggerated to over-highlight positive attributes while masking potential faults. As mentioned before, the argument that online participants can be much more fluid and changeable with their self-described identity, provided by Rose, et al. (2012), offers the user increased opportunities for strategic self-presentation, which tends to create an alternate reality for both parties involved. Qualitative research by Blackwell, Birnholtz, and Abbot (2015) uses research from Brown, et al. (2005) and supports the research from Rose, et al. (2012) by concluding that there was a certain level of ambiguity that users
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strive for when they interact on social media platforms such as Grindr. Blackwell, et al. (2015) argue that the participants in their study wanted to be perceived a certain way in order to interact and communication with other Grinder users. In order for them to do so, however:
Participants were concerned about identifiability and the possibility of negative impressions by people who might view Grindr negatively. There was thus a tension between wishing to be perceived positively by other nearby attractive Grindr users they wanted to meet, and avoiding negative consequences or stigma from those outside this group. (Blackwell, et al., 2015, p. 1133-1134)
This research reinforces my argument that the online gay community was created and
maintained with a level of self-developed ambiguity. By relying on virtual
communication, a person can craft a physical and emotional persona that may not be
entirely accurate, which can be problematic when an in-person connection is requested.
A byproduct of these additional connecting points inevitably develops within
virtual communities, giving all people, including the gay community, an opportunity to
create an encouraging and safer space. According to Brown et al. (2005):
The Internet has become a popular venue for gay men to exchange information, discuss political and other issues of interest, converse in chat rooms, and place and correspond to personal ads, or to partake in cybersex fantasies (erotic discussions and fantasies online without any face-to-face contact) in an anonymous fashion without fear of reprisal, (p. 63)
When relying on this form of communication as a singular or primary avenue, problems
are very likely to develop. A study by Mahmoudi, Amini, and Hosseinzadeh (2014)
found that university students used the virtual world to get rid of [avoid] their family
problems, unemployment, high marriage age, economic problems, high educational costs,
shortage of enough space for free time activities, unreasonable rules and standards of the
real world and closed social atmosphere (p. 877). Though there is nothing wrong with a
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little escapism, an over-reliance on anonymity within the virtual world to shield one from external problems and factors could be problematic. As Mahmoudi, et al. argue, increased ambiguity also creates a slippery slope that encourages a disconnected self with reality. A growing sense of ambiguity has the potential to result in increased isolation.
Isolation and Decreased Social Capital
Regarding the effects of increased usage of the Internet and social apps, scholars found that the more people used the Internet, the more their family and friend relationships suffered (Handel, 2001; Turkle, 2012). Other scholars have found that there is, in fact, an increase in interpersonal relationships and meaningful connections between friends and family (Marwick & Boyd, 2014; Baym, 2010). At the center of this debate, however, is whether or not Internet users end up feeling more isolated through decreased interpersonal relationships or whether the Internet can lead to greater communication and connection between family and friends (Nie, 2001). Nie is a leading communication scholar whose research is lauded as one of the first comprehensive studies done on the Internet during a time when the majority of the county had access to the World Wide Web. Nie (2001) set the foundational argument that Internet users do not become more sociable because they have used the Internet, but they display a higher degree of social connectivity and participation because they are better educated, better off, and less likely to be among the elderly (2001, p. 429). More recent studies by Ellison, Steinfield, & Lempe (2007), Kim, LaRose, & Peng (2009), and Van Dijk (2012) confirm that trend.
Nie goes on to argue that there is a steady decrease in social interaction with family and friends when you factor in the length of Internet use (2001, p. 429). The societal shift from geographic-based communities to more of a virtual world has the potential to
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decrease interpersonal relationships among friends and companions and heightening isolation, even if there are initial signs of increased inclusion and connection.
Mahmoudi, Amini, and Hosseinzadeh (2014) found that the use of the Internet affected interaction and communication among the students they studied. Mahmoudi, et al. (2014) argue, The results of the study indicate that there is a relationship between the use of the Internet and social networks and social isolation, adding that along with an increasing rate of Internet usage, there is greater probability of social isolation (p. 877). Though they did find that social interactions through a virtual medium can be beneficial, they argue that a balance must be found within the individual. If that balance does not happen, social isolation, the feeling of despair, and loneliness increase, which decreases interpersonal relationships.
There are other subcomponents to the idea of increased isolation. Stern and Handel (2001) argue that the increased usage of technology increases alienation and deindividuation within the geographic community. Stem and Handel, as well as Postman (1992) and Zuboff (1988), argue that the more we interact with machines instead of people, the more frustrated and depersonalized we are likely to become (p. 287). Specifically, in regards to alienation, they agree with Putnams (2000) assessment that, as technology and media evolves, it tends to encourage physical isolation. Accompanying alienation is deindividuation, a condition that Stem and Handel indicate occurs when people are in anonymity-producing situations that reduce their concerns about being evaluated by others (2001, p. 287).
Ultimately, however, social capital suffers from an increasingly reliant virtual community. Social capital, as defined by Lee and Lee (2010), is derived from relations
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with other people in a social structure, which allows social relationships among individuals and helps them create a competitive advantage to achieve their social goals (2010, p. 713). In order to create social capital, one must find commonality in conversation and that only occurs when information is shared with others. Lee and Lee (2010) argue that this takes place through interpersonal communication and through virtual communication, such as chat rooms or message boards, which have the ability to enhance the communication ability of individuals due to technological advantages. While some individuals do find comfort and support from an online community, supplementing a traditional geographic community to build social capital, others experience a decrease of social capital, leaving them feeling isolated, alienated, and deindividualized. Lee and Lee (2010) conclude that an online community by itself does not ratify the role of the traditional or local community, and face-to-face communication between community members is still required in order to fully benefit from communities (2010, p. 721). Decreased Interpersonal Discourse
Along with ambiguity and isolation, interpersonal discourse suffers within this virtual world (Raju, Valsaraj, & Noronha, 2014). For this thesis, general discourse encompasses various types of communication, including text, photos, videos, etc., that can be sent through the Internet and various social and networking apps. One problem is that communication can be limited depending on the medium chosen. For example, textual conversations can vary in length, and the tone and emotion within those conversations tends to lose contextual value through these technologies. Even with these conversational limitations, social sites and social apps are encouraging gay men to engage in discourse in ways they may not in person, including interacting in a more
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overtly sexualized way. Stern and Handel (2001) argue that chat rooms give the user the choice to alter identities in any way they choose. They add that under the protective cover of the Internet, people interact sexually in ways that were not previously possible and express deviant forms of sexuality that they would otherwise forgo (p. 288). A result can be the breakdown or misinterpretation of interpersonal discourse, as argued by Raju, Valsaraj, and Noronha (2014) and Blackwell, et al. (2015). Stern and Handel (2001) argue that uninhibited verbal behavior was more common through technology when compared to face-to-face interactions and non-normative sexual behaviors were seen to increase in some of people (p. 287). Joinson (1998) argues that the Internet, and now other forms of social apps, abundantly removes social cues and provides an environment that almost encourages an increase in inhibition. Clipson, Wilson, and DuFrene (2012) add to Joinsons argument by saying, Caution is thrown to the wind when communicating via technology with friends, family members, and business associates
(p. 64). This freedom from self-censorship can create ill will and hurt feelings, even if that was not the intention. People tend to lose self-consciousness and, in turn, are more likely to do things that they would not otherwise do, including sexual behaviors and other behaviors that may be detrimental to interpersonal relationships.
Positive Aspects of Social Media and Technology Even though there was a focus on the negative aspects of the gay virtual world, there are also plenty of positive attributes. Mahmoudi, Amini, and Hosseinzadeh (2014) acknowledge that the Internet and membership in social networks has gained a prominent place in the societies to the extent that it can affect the social processes and events and bring about fundamental changes (p. 877). They continue their analysis by
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adding that, at times, the Internet can play a complementary role to other forms of communication by filling special periods of time without disturbing the others (p. 877). These social interactions are why people use online communities. Lee and Lee (2010) explain why people log on, saying, They participate in order to garner mutual benefits between group members, for example, strengthening social ties, circulating information, archiving experiences and exchanging opinions (p. 713). They add, These interpersonal interactive functions enable people to actively go online and communicate with others, particularly at a high speed with a relatively low cost regardless of time and distance (p. 712). Further research needs to be done regarding the speed in which people can connect and if it tends to drive the behavior of some toward instant gratification and reduced attention spans.
In regards to gay men specifically, the Internet and mobile apps have given this marginalized group the opportunity to come together and be a virtual voice of change. Members of the gay community can find greater self-acceptance of their identities through the Internet, chat rooms, and social applications. These mediums have also been able to reduce stigmas within the gay community. Stigmas such as HIV status tend to be easier to discuss in an online platform. Without face-to-face repercussions, The Internet provides an opportunity for men to disclose their actual or believed HIV status without identifying themselves and to search out other men of the same HIV status (Brown, et al., 2005, p. 68). Brown, et al. (2005) acknowledge that both risk factors (such as increased assumptions of trust and rapport) as well as protective factors (such as partner sorting on the basis of expectations, ground rules, and safe sex negotiations) can operate simultaneously (p. 71). What Brown, et al. and other scholars have concluded is that the
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virtual community tends to be shaped by the individual and what the individual is seeking. It should not be the sole source of community and connection. The online community should work in tandem with the geographic community, helping advance certain ideas and narratives while also encouraging participants to make meaningful face-to-face connections when possible.
Conclusion
There is no argument that the Internet and social applications have influenced the way gay men perceive themselves and the world around them. The virtual world has given millions of gay men the opportunity to connect with others like them. What can be argued is how those same mediums have unpacked the traditional definition of a geographic community and created a coexisting virtual community. Throughout this chapter, I have shown the positive and the negative aspects of technology, focusing on how the negative aspects influence certain behaviors that deconstruct interpersonal communication. This thesis is not an argument for or against a virtual gay community, rather to help redefine what the community has become. No longer are gay men bound to geographic places like bars, clubs, and theaters, there are now additional ways in which gay men of all ages, ethnicities, and experiences can engage with one another. By redefining what community is means analyzing the negative aspects of this evolving virtual world through increased ambiguity, decreased interpersonal relationships through increased isolation, and decreased meaningful discourse. It also means acknowledging how the geographically-based gay community formed and the power of social media through the lens of discourse ethics.
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Throughout this chapter, I explain how communications theory, the inclusion of technology, and the use of social applications have impacted the gay community. Finally, I will conclude by rephrasing my argument and suggesting additional research to encourage parity among the other letters within the LQBTQ acronym.
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CHAPTER V
CONCLUSION
By taking an interdisciplinary approach, I argue that while the Internet and social applications have improved inclusivity among gay men, those same communication tools have also transformed the traditional definition of a geographic community, creating a coexisting virtual community. Within the gay community, the virtual world, specifically gay-related apps, is helping link people together who may not otherwise have been able to connect. This hybrid community, however, is also challenging the interpersonal skills needed to sustain a working, progressive community. Current scholarship shows that an over-reliance on social networking apps can stifled the growth of community building by having negative impacts on interpersonal communications. As cited throughout, scholars argue an overreliance on the virtual world can reveal isolated sub-communities that fail to experience the community in its entirety. This, I have argued, is can lead to a deterioration of interpersonal communication skills within the community. Individual chapters focused on four specific areas of studyhistory, sociology, political science, and communicationsoffered the needed background and theories to support my argument.
In Chapter Two, I presented a background needed to understand my argument by recounting the history of the LGBTQ community, starting with Mattachine Society in the 1950s all the way to present day polling and opinions around gay rights and gay marriage. I also explained, by incorporating political science, how the claiming of public space and the theory of play influenced the ways the gay community developed within larger city settings, while promoting gay-friendly politics within and outside of the gay
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neighborhood. This chapter is in no way a detailed history of the LGBTQ community. The purpose of the chapter is to simply supply a reader with basic knowledge about the creation of the gay community.
In order to support the historical and political foundation, I introduced the idea of identity theory and social identity theory in Chapter Three. Identity theory is defined as the role a person plays within a social construct or setting. Social identity theory encompasses various sub-theories of identity that explain how gay men shaped who they were and what their community wanted to become. Because of the inherently strong connection between a common social identity within the gay community, I evaluated social identity theory and its componentsnamely collective identity theory and selfcategorization theorywhich seemed like a natural fit. Collective identity theory is the overall cognitive, moral, and emotional connection with a broader community (Polletta & Jasper, 2001). Self-categorization theory explains why people make the conscious decision to place themselves into a particular group (Stryker, 2000). All of these theories support my argument for what is needed to maintain the hybrid community.
As the idea of virtual communities begin to form, it is important that we look at the role of technology within our changing communications. Chapter Four covered the impact of technology and social applications on the gay community as a whole. This chapter takes a look at the good and bad aspects associated with social apps. The conclusion can be made that too much reliance on these apps can be problematic to social discourse. I showed this through Discourse Ethics, which explains the positive and negative aspects of a growing virtual world and how that world intersects with the maintenance of a physical community. I also showed how meaningful interpersonal
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communication is important in maintaining a cohesive community. In order to define what healthy communication means for an individual, one must analyze all aspects of the virtual world, including its negatives, such as increased ambiguity, decreased interpersonal relationships through increased isolation, and decreased meaningful discourse.
Further Research
Throughout the entirety of this thesis, there are obvious gaps in research, one of which I acknowledged in my introduction and intentionally left unanswered. When researchers talk about the LGBTQ community, they often mean gay men. That, in itself, is a big gap of missing research. A simple search for gay found 1,820,000 results. Searching for the words lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer garnered 537,000 results, 286,000 results, 133,000 results, and 532,000 results, respectively. Though this is in no way meant to represent a case study of LGBTQ research, it simply shows the disproportionate research out there. By simply relying on gay men to represent the greater needs of the LGBTQ community, researchers have been doing a disservice to the various other groups represented within the acronym. That is not to say scholars are currently overlooking these other groups. As you can see by the numbers above, there is research available focusing on the various other groups within the LGBTQ acronym. What I challenge future researchers and scholars to do is to step outside of the standard group and study the lesbian community, bisexual men and women, the transgender community, and those who more closely align to being queer. Give them more of a voice to tell their story, to be heard by the research community. Yes, this is a tall order, but it is necessary to shed light on the various other groups that make up the whole community.
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Full Text
THE NEW GAYBORHOOD:
DEFINING AND REDEFINING THE GAY COMMUNITY IN A TECHNOLOGICAL AGE by
CHRISTOPHER M. GALLEGOS B.S., University of Colorado, Boulder, 2005
A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Social Science Social Sciences Program
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2016
CHRISTOPHER M. GALLEGOS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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This thesis for the Master of Social Science degree by Christopher M. Gallegos has been approved for the Social Sciences Program by
Omar Swartz, Chair Candan Duran-Aydintug Tony Robinson
December 17, 2016
m


Gallegos, Christopher M. (M.S.S., Social Science)
The New Gayborhood: Defining and Redefining the Gay Community in a Technological Age Thesis directed by Associate Professor Omar Swartz
ABSTRACT
What is community? What defines it, and what creates it? Whator whois the gay community? Is the gay community the same as it was ten, twenty, or even thirty years ago?
Those are some of the questions I will be answering as I explore the creation, expansion, and subsequent integration of the physical gay community into one that embraces an online, fragmented community. I will explore the creation and evolution of the gay community, examining its early years and the challenges it faced as a marginalized group. To help define community, I will use the concept of identity theory by incorporating the theory of play and weaving the idea of claiming public space into my argument to show how the physical, economic, social creation of the gay community is dependent upon a geographic and virtual community. Those examples will set up my argument that the idea of community has changed in part to the commonality of technology and social applications. I argue that the idea of the traditional gay and lesbian community, which relied heavily on where you lived, has become fragmented and disjointed because of the reliance of an online, virtual community which, in turn, has led to a lack of interpersonal connections among individuals of this marginalized group.
The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication.
Approved: Omar Swartz
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
It has taken five years, four jobs, and two cities to get to this point. Through it all, the support and encouragement from my family and friends has never wavered. Thank you for pushing me to get this done and for always believing in my writing.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER
I. INTRODUCTION............................................................ 1
Research Methodology and Use of Theory...................................4
Literature Review........................................................6
Gay History and the Theory of Play................................7
Theories of Identity............................................ 10
Technology and Communication.................................... 13
Conclusion..............................................................17
II. A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF GAY HISTORY........................................ 19
Claiming Public Spaces..................................................26
Creating Community through Play.........................................29
Conclusion............................................................. 31
III. THEORIES OF IDENTITY....................................................33
Identity Theory and Social Identity Theory..............................34
Collective Identity Theory..............................................38
Self-Categorization Theory..............................................41
Conclusion..............................................................43
IV. TECHNOLOGY AM) SOCIAL APIS.............................................45
What is social media?...................................................48
Putting the Dialogue in Discourse Ethics................................50
Technology and Social Apps and the creation of the new community......52
Ambiguity........................................................53
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Isolation and Decreased Social Capital
56
Decreased Interpersonal Discourse.............................58
Positive Aspects of Social Media and Technology...............59
Conclusion................................................... 61
V. CONCLUSION..............................................63
BIBLIOGRAPHY..............................................................66
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CHAPTERI
INTRODUCTION
There may be nothing more terrifying, more nerve-racking, than meeting a potential mate for the first time. The first date, that time when your mind runs wild wondering who this person is, what this person looks like, and if there will be a second date. If you are a gay man, theres a strong chance you met this person virtually, either in a gay chat room, through an online community, or on an online dating service. As through any type of online datingstraight or gaythere is no one ensuring social norms are being followed, that this person is who they said they were. You may have seen a photo or two, chatted for a couple of days via messenger or text, and finally decided it was time to meet in person. By this point, you may have started to build a physical, emotional, and communicative persona of that person in your mind, expecting someone who you hope fits into your fantasy. Yes, you have convinced yourself that you feel comfortable enough because you know what they like or dislike, but do you really know this person? That question may cross your mind a couple of times, but you reassure yourself that this may be the one. The day finally arrives as you both decide to meet at that neutral site. You arrive first, waiting and watching every guy who walks by. Is the person that shows up an accurate representation of their virtual personaboth physically and emotionally? Are they communicating as much or as well as they did online? Do they fit into the preconceived idea that you formed in your mind based on how they marketed themselves to you online? That is the conundrum levied upon the gay community as it continues to embrace and rely on the virtual world.
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We do not need scholars to tell us the way people communicate is changing rapidly. What we do need scholars to tell us is how, as technology advances, are we connectingor disconnectingto one another. Today, there are a number of ways in which people communicate: everything from face-to-face communication, letter writing, telephony communication, and electronic correspondence. Deuze (2011) argues that, over the past few decades, people have had to find new ways to deal with constant change because of the continuous exposure to, use of, and immersion in media, information, and communications technologies (p. 137). Technology, the Internet, and social media are no longer used for the primary function of communicating. Rather, it has become a playground for a search for meaning and belonging (Deuze, 2011, p. 138). Much like the theory of play, which encourages disenfranchised groups to turn powerlessness into empowerment, technology has become the world in which marginalized groups can have a voice, seek out those who with similar thoughts and ideas, and advocate for changes within the geographic social structure. It is that search for meaning and belonging that has helped the gay and lesbian community come together to advance social acceptance and inclusion within a heteronormative society. Through the use of technologythe Internet and social media in particulargay men and lesbian women are bridging a gap in communication that is a result of a straight, male-dominated society. However, there is a downside that is playing out across the country because of the hyper-technological world in which we live, a power shift in the way people shape their lives and identities through media (Deuze, 2011, p. 138). I argue that while the Internet and social applications have improved societal inclusivity among gay men and lesbian women, those same mediums have also challenged the traditional definition of a geographic
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community, creating a coexisting virtual community, and, in the process, undermining the interpersonal skills needed to sustain and maintain a community that is working to improve itself. My thesis will begin with a historical overview of the formation of the gay community and the use and advantage of claiming public spaces through the theory of play. I then take an in-depth look at the use of Identity Theory within the gay and lesbian community, showing how the community formed and maintains itself as a subset of the greater society. I will finally provide an overview of social media and social apps, concluding with the negative aspects of the newly created virtual world, which will include highlighting increased ambiguity, decreased interpersonal relationships through increased isolation, and decreased interpersonal discourse.
Throughout this thesis, the following key terms and phrases will be used with frequency, which need to be defined and explained. The first key term is the word community, and the definition I will rely on is provided by Craig (2008). He defines community as having the ability to strengthen the capacity of people as active citizens, promoting an independent voice for disadvantaged and vulnerable communities. The gay community developed and strengthened its own sense of being through verbal and physical action, developing and championing policy that worked in its favor. The second key term I will use with regularity is social applications. In addition to the Internet, I will also focus on a handful of applicationsor appsused by gay men. Gray (2014) defines these social applications as specialized programs that can be downloaded onto a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet. These social applications are a variation of the Internet because they primarily rely on a cell phone or wireless network, and are defined as a specialized program that can be downloaded onto a mobile device, such as a
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smartphone (Gray, 2014, p. 1). These apps offer a setting where people can engage in specific or general interactions with other like-minded people. That is not to say that these apps are the only way gay men are communicating, but they are one important way of connecting to other gay men. The last key term, and the most important, is gay men. As a gay man, I have chosen to focus my thesis on gay men instead of including the broader LGBTQ community. This is not meant to ignore specific information that may or may not pertain to lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and questioning individuals, and is not meant to diminish the importance of those marginalized groups. Simply, the majority of research is focused on gay men, which also correlates to what I have experienced as a gay male who has seen the transformation of the community firsthand into one that, at times, has become heavily reliant on virtual social interactions over personal social interactions. Focusing on a segment of the LGBTQ community allows a more concise review of my argument. A narrower focus also gives me the opportunity to highlight gaps in current LGBTQ research. Acknowledging these gaps will hopefully allow and encourage future researchers to consider including the other letters within the LGBTQ acronym, giving those unique groups their own voice.
Research Methodology and Use of Theory I will be using an interdisciplinary approach as I work through my argument, emphasizing knowledge from across many traditional scholarly boundaries. This is my preferred approach since, to me, it incorporates a much more pragmatic view of the issue. Repko (2012) agrees, stating that an approach that involves seeing the problem through various traditional perspectives shows that interdisciplinary analysis can be systematic and cumulative (p. 138). In my opinion, conducting an analysis through a number of
4


different lenses offers the reader a more comprehensive overview of the topic, its challenges, and conclusions that can be applied. Being flexible with my approach gives the reader a more comprehensive view on the state of gay studies, especially when analyzing how the gay community intersects with social technology such as gay dating apps. Some current scholarship on the topic of gay studies uses a mixed methods approach, relying on qualitative research to tell a story and on quantitative research to show generational changes. For the purpose of my research, I will use an interdisciplinary critical social science approach, which is a modern utopian view that emphasizes the critical role social sciences plays to go beyond the surface of an argument to help create a better world structure (Neuman, 2009)., This approach will examine and critique current research and scholarship from gay studies, political science, sociology, and communication while evaluating their consequences in order to support my argument that the gay community has become overly reliant on the virtual world through the use of social apps.
Throughout my thesis I will devote individual chapters to four specific areas of studyhistory, political science, sociology, and communicationsall of which give the reader the needed background and theories that support my argument. Within two of these chapters, various theories will be used to explain how communities are formed and why there is now a need for a definition that incorporates aspects of a virtual world. Chapter Two will offer a brief history of the gay community and incorporate the political science theory of play to help explain the politics of a gay neighborhood. Chapter Three will explore the idea of social identity theory in order to explain how the gay community formed and defined itself within a heteronormative society. Chapter Four will incorporate
5


Discourse Ethics to explain the positive and negative aspects of a growing virtual world and how that world intersects with the maintenance of a physical community. Separating these theories into individual chapters allows me to better craft my argument through different areas of study. This will allow the reader to have a better informed approach to changing certain behaviors in themselves and others, while offering allies the background to create a more inclusive community that does not demand the abandoning of what makes the gay community unique.
I argue that the over-reliance on gay social apps has stifled the natural growth of community building, giving participants a passive form of interacting with others, which can lead to the deterioration of interpersonal communication skills. As much as the virtual world, specifically gay-related apps, has helped, the gay community is in danger of experiencing a shift that is subsequently creating small silos that are keeping participants from experiencing the physical community in its entirety. Analyzing the impact of social technology and social applications on the gay community through various lenses allows me to more fully argue that there is a growing disconnect within the gay community as more members continue to rely on social apps to create and maintain community, opting out on the meaningful interpersonal interactions that once made the gay community such an important enclave. The gay community was complexly built out of the social oppression that culminated in the mid-1900s, placing a heavy emphasis on the use of the gay bar, gay community activities, and the gay neighborhood. As we move into the twenty-first century, an increasing number of gay men are placing less of an emphasis on these public social outlets (Norman, 2015), making it more difficult to maintain the core defining traits of the gay community, leaving the next generation of gay
6


men without the history and the experiences that have gay men today have relied upon. By emphasizing this growing issue, my hope is that members of the gay community begin to take a proactive approach to creating lasting interpersonal relationships through increased awareness of how the gay community was created and what it takes to maintain and build upon strong community bonds.
Literature Review
Within this literature review, I will use a few different theories, pulling from various academic fields, to produce and convey my argument. The theories and accompanying academic fields include the theory of play through the lens of LGBTQ studies and political science; the sociological view of identity theory; and communication studies. Communication studies, in particular, include the analytical tools offered by critical discourse analysis and articulation and assemblage. This literature review is organized by topic and follows the progression of my analysis, as I begin with a history of the LGBTQ community and how the community exemplified the theory of play, then move through the creation of the communitys identity through identity theory, and finally conclude with the inclusion of communication studies, in particular social networking and social applications.
Gay History and the Theory of Play
Shortly following World War II, American cities were overwhelmed by a number of social and moral issues. Politicians from coast-to-coast, many of who interpreted these social and moral differences as issues needing to be fixed, campaigned on platforms that offered closed-minded solutions meant to delegitimize the other. For instance, Agees (2014) historical interpretation of San Francisco describes a city in transition,
7


politicians who pander to the electorate who fund their campaigns, an overzealous police department, and growing visibility of racial and sexual minority groups throughout the city, which represented the struggles felt by most major cities throughout the United States. Agee (2014) describes the creation of new communities within the city structure as a response to the political world, which was a response to the traditional, family-focused social conservative policies of the post-World War II era. Scholars, including Swartz (2016), DEmilio (2003), and Castells (2001), support Agees evaluation, each focusing on either the political or social ramifications of the majority society on minority societies. Each scholar shows the distinct efforts by the majority to persuade or harass those who go against these social norms to conform.
As those communities became more prominent, the question arose as to who had a right to a particular geographic space within a city. Mitchell (2003) describes rights as a means to social justice; a form of institutionalized and protected agreements between the government and its people. Swartz (2016), in reference to the LGBTQ community, says rights should be granted on pragmatic grounds based on historic legal cases. Swartz advocates that the gay community should have the same basic rights as their heterosexual counterparts when it comes to healthcare, spousal rights, etc. There are flaws, however, in how these rights are implemented within a social structure. Mitchell (2003) argues that these flaws are embedded within the system that creates laws, which are created to protect the privileged over the oppressed and minorities and tend to be developed to address specific social situations or political movements. Mitchell argues that these legal flaws then force oppressed groups to claim the physical space they may have negotiated, producing an enclave that is welcoming for those seeking refuge,
8


something we see within the creation and maintenance of the gay community. He adds that these rights need to be expressed in specific places that are designated, taken, or claimed by those in conflict. The connection between these enclaves and the greater community is that the city begins to create laws that represent all citizens. According to Harvey (2003), these newly defined rights center on transforming a city into what the collective we desires, not altering a city that promotes access for a select few. Harvey argues that one of the most precious yet most neglected of our human rights is the lack of awareness that individuals possess the freedom to make and remake ourselves and our cities (p. 1). One of the ways we are empowered to recreate our geographic space is through the theory of play, which Harvey argues tends to happen in radical fashion.
The idea of having fun, exuding who you are through a very personalized and stylized way, is deeply rooted in gay culture. This action circles back to the development of the gay neighborhood. Castells (2001) states that the media attention on the San Francisco Beatniks portrayed a sense of tolerance, which extended to homosexuals, reinforcing the city as a place where thousands of isolated gays all over the country could find solitude. Though the earliest communitieslike the Castro District in San Francisco and the West Village in New York Citybecame the original refuges for gay men without any other place to go, other communities throughout the U.S. began to develop. Through the development of these enclaves, the gay community began to further define who they were, what they stood for, and how they planned to give themselves a voice. This process of developing the gay community can be described in various ways, one of which is through the theory of play. It is a concept that defines the way in which the gay community claimed its rights to the city and beyond. It was through play, Castells argues,
9


that gay culture was able to enrich urban culture throughout the United States. Music, art, and theater, among other things, were major influences on the political system, ultimately striking a balance between play and governance. Cassegard (2012) supports Castells assessment of play, saying that play is the opposite of powerlessness, using perceived reality to emanate who one is through unconventional societal norms. He says actions arising as a response to powerlessness result in an empowered group embracing the idea that its actions and opinions matter. Play, argues Cassegard, creates an alternative space that offers a sanctuary or a sense of relief for the subalterns from the oppressiveness of mainstream society, providing relief from the pressures of mainstream society and helping regain a sense of agency. A prime example is the annual gay pride parade, where the LGBTQ community coalesces to honor the past through performance while standing strong against past and future oppression. And it is through this form of play that the gay community has been able to enhance understanding among the greater urban communities that define the country, showing inclusiveness and acceptance of those who may not self-identify as LGBTQ.
Theories of Identity
The creation of any community begins from an acknowledged common identity. Throughout this section, I will introduce research that focuses on social identity theory which includes aspects of collective identity theory and self-categorization theory. Within the context of my thesis, the development of the social self is important to look at because it gives sociological context as to why these communities are formed. OBrien (2011) explains the development of character and identity through the idea of self, treating the self as an object that balances between the actions and behavior of a person
10


and the evaluation of a persons behavior. Tseelon (2011) analyzes identity through the meaning of self-presentationhow people alter their appearances to a certain degree no matter their relationship to that individual or group. He does make the distinction that the less familiar the individual, the more manipulation and alteration is done. Gecas and Burke (1994) explore the social psychological perspectives of self and identity, citing four different categories: (1) situational, (2) social structure, (3) biographical/historical, and (4) intrapersonal. Gecas and Burkes evaluation is done through the lens of social class, race, gender, and self-evaluation. Owens (2003) supports Gecas and Burkes evaluation of self and identity. Though he focuses more on the role of the individual rather than the varying categories that Gecas and Burke identify, the four different categories are of self and identity can be applied to explain how the gay community was created.
Under the umbrella of social identity theory is collective identity theoryan individuals cognitive, moral, and emotional connection with a broader community, category, practice, or institution. Cooley (2011), through his looking glass self theory, introduces a reflected sense of being for the self, meaning how a person sees him/herself is dependent on those around him/her. There are three principle elements to this idea: (1) the imagination of our appearance to the other person, (2) the imagination of his judgment of that appearance, and (3) a source of emotion. This development of the looking glass theory focuses on the development of the self being based on what we think others think. Mead (2011) argues ones character is interrelated, coming from the development of the mind, the self, and society. He says that the self is both a subject and an object, depending on this interaction. Meads overall argument is that humans
11


inherently take to role-taking: the more the self plays, the more it becomes the other. Cooley (2011) and Meads (2011) arguments support each other sequentially. First, a gay man views himself based on societal norms that tend to be less favorable (Cooley, 2011). Then the gay male, after being defined by others, engages in play that encourages him to embrace his otherness (Mead, 2011). Stets and Carter (2012) argue that numerous factors make up a persons identity and the role identity verification plays in creating positive or negative emotions. Stets and Carter explain that the identity verification process happens within situations that rely on cultural expectations regarding how people should act and feel, assuming humans actively engage in goal-oriented action as they interact with their environment. Stets and Carter conclude that individual identities carry their own shared meanings about how to interact based on the societal hierarchy. Burkitt (2008) explains the influences of society on the self, arguing we must first participate in a world of others that is formed by history and culture in order to become an individual self with a unique identity. He also assesses that the self is created around what we do and is often judged by those who are in the dominant or privileged sections of society, a concept that can further define the creation and maintenance of the gay community.
The second sub-theory under social identity is self-categorization, which explains why people consciously decide to categorize or place themselves into a particular group that is often in contrast or in competition with a dominant group. Demo (1992) tackles the idea of self-concept, a manufactured structure of thoughts, attitudes, images, or theories regarding the self as an object. Demo suggests that social encounters, social situations and life transitions all play a role in how we view ourselves. Burke and Reitzes (1981) explore the connection between identity and role performance, suggesting that identity
12


has three main characteristics: (1) identities are social products, (2) identities are formed in particular situations and organized in a hierarchy, and (3) are symbolic and reflective. They conclude that the two share common links, showing two performance variables: educational plans and participation in social activities. Gay men, while exploring their sexuality, often find solace in places where they can be social with one another, learning from others who have already walked the self-identifying path. One of those places of solace lies within the online gay communitya vast network of chat rooms, resource pages, and networking applicationswhere gay men have immediate connections to others like them who have varying levels of experience within the gay community. But among the opportunities to connect online, there are also drawbacks to this virtual world, which are explained below.
Technology and Communication
Scholars are quick to point out either the positives or negatives of technologys influence on community without giving much flexibility to the idea that technology can be both good and bad. Being able to evaluate technology holistically allows for a more comprehensive pragmatic analysis. In an effort to show both sides of technology, I will first provide an overview of the good aspects of technology and communication before highlighting the potentially bad characteristics. Brown, Maycock, and Burns (2005) argue that for marginalized groups, the Internet, social applications, and social media are able to remove barriers associated with age, ethnicity, geography, and socioeconomic status. Brown, et al. further explain the appeal of the Internet to gay men saying the reason a virtual world is so enticing is because there are relatively few places in which that population can meet without fear of negative social consequences. Evans (2012) explores
13


communication and socialization, suggesting that virtual worlds tend to not have a predetermined purpose, but that the purpose that develops centers around the need to socialize. He argues that these virtual environments allow people to establish communities, create friendships, and experience romantic encounters, among other things. Baym (2010) argues that the online world can encourage people to feel less pressured to find a peaceful middle ground, which has the potential to lead to more civic engagement. By removing the face-to-face interaction, the online world offers participants a veil of anonymity that has the potential to lower verbal filters and increase risk-taking while encouraging contributors to take a more opinionated stance that may run contrary to the collective whole.
While there are many positives that accompany this virtual communitymany of which I stated abovethere are plenty of negative aspects that need to be acknowledged and understood, such as increased ambiguity, decreased interpersonal relationships through increased isolation, and decreased meaningful discourse.
Ambiguity
In general, the Internet is seen as an environment in which to interact and socialize, especially for the gay and lesbian community. This virtual world has created a community of its own, but are participants within this community projecting themselves in a way that is negatively impacts interpersonal communication? Does that even matter? Rose, et al. (2012) argues that a varying level of ambiguity allows ones self to be more pliable, allowing for a strategic way of presenting oneself to the virtual community. Rose, et al. (2012) maintains that in virtual environments, physical identity markers are not apparent and, as a result, the self is more fluid and changeable (p. 594). This offers the
14


user increased opportunities for strategic self-presentation, which tends to create an alternate reality for both parties involved. By limiting the interpersonal communication, a person can craft a persona that may not be entirely truthful, which has the potential to be problematic when an in-person connection is requested. Research by Brown, Maycock, and Bums (2005) conclude that gay men view and engage with the Internet differently compared to how they view and engage with other more traditional gay spaces, such as community centers, resource centers, clubs, or bars. Brown, et al. examined the usage patterns of chat rooms and other social aspects of the Internet by gay men in Western Australia in regards to meeting sexual partners. They concluded that this different approach influences the type of interaction between the men in the study, either online or face-to-face, how that interaction progresses, and how certain assumptions and expectations are built and expounded. Certain characteristics are often exaggerated to over-highlight positive attributes while masking potential faults. Zhao (2011) uses the looking glass theorywhich is mentioned aboveto explain how young adults view themselves in a virtual world. Zhao argues that disembodied strangers have a key role in social development, allowing a person to create a digital self that is more focused around ones inner world, which can be manipulated to fit the current conversation. Isolation and Decreased Social Capital
There have been few studies done regarding the effects of increased usage of the Internet and social apps. Some scholars found that the more people used the Internet, the more their family and friend relationships suffered (Mahmoudi, Amini, & Hosseinzadeh, 2014; Handel, 2001; Turkle, 2012). Other scholars have found that there is an increase in interpersonal relationships and meaningful connections between friends and family (Nie,
15


2001; Marwick & Boyd, 2014; Baym, 2010). At the center of this debate is whether or not Internet users end up feeling more isolated through decreased interpersonal relationships or whether the Internet can lead to greater communication and connection between family and friends. Nie (2001) argues that there is a steady decrease in social interaction with family and friends when you factor in the length of time of Internet use. The societal shift from geographic-based communities to more of a virtual world is decreasing interpersonal relationships among friends and companions and heightening isolation, even if there are initial signs of increased inclusion and connection.
Mahmoudi, Amini, and Hosseinzadeh (2014) found that the use of the Internet affected interactions and communications among the students they studied. Mahmoudi et al. (2014) argue, The results of the study indicate that there is a relationship between the use of the Internet and social networks and social isolation, adding that along with an increasing rate of Internet usage, there is greater probability of social isolation (p. 877). Though they did find that social interactions through a virtual medium can be beneficial, they argue that a balance must be found within the individual. If that does not happen, social isolationthe feeling of despair and loneliness increasewhich decreases discourse within interpersonal relationships. Stem and Handel (2001) argue that the increased usage of technology increases alienation and deindividuation within the geographic community. Lee and Lee (2010) argue that even though online communities have the ability to enhance the communication ability of individuals due to technological advantages, face-to-face communication in the form of the traditional community is still essential to ensure the quality of community as a whole (p. 711).
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PAGE 1

THE NEW GAYBORHOOD : DEFINING AND REDEFINING THE GAY COMMUNITY IN A TECHNOLOGICAL AGE by CHRISTOPHER M. GALLEGOS B.S., University of Colorado, Boulder, 2005 A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Social Science Social Sciences Program 201 6

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ii 2016 CHRISTOPHER M. GALLEGOS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

PAGE 3

iii This thesis for the Master of Social Science degree by Christopher M. Gallegos has been approved for the Social Science s Program by Omar Swartz, Chair Candan Duran Aydintug Tony Robinson December 17, 2016

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iv Gallegos, Christopher M. ( M.S.S., Social Science ) The New Gayborhood: Defining and Redefining the Gay Community in a Technological Age Thesis directed by Associate Professor Omar Swartz ABSTRACT What is community? What defines it, and what creates it? W hat or who is the gay community? Is the gay community the same as it was ten, twenty, or even thirty years ago? Those are some of the questions I will be answering as I explore the creation, expansion, and subsequent integration of the physical gay community into one th at embraces an online, fragmented community. I will explore the creation and evolution of the gay community examining its early years and the challenges it faced as a marginalized group. To help define community, I will use the concept of identity theory by incorporating the theory of play and weaving the idea of claiming public space into my argument to show how the physical, economic, social creation of the gay community is dependent upon a geographic and virtual community Those examples will set up my argument that the idea of community has changed in part to the commonalit y of technology and social applications. I argue that the idea of the traditional gay and lesbian community, which relied heavily on where you lived, has become fragmented and disjoin ted because of the reliance of an online, virtual community which, in turn has led to a lack of interpersonal connections among individuals of this marginalized group. The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication. Appro ved: Omar Swartz

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v ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS It has taken five years, four jobs, and two cities to get to this point. Through it all, the support and encouragement from my family and friends has never wavered. Thank you for pushing me to get this done and for always believing in my writing.

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vi TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER I. 1 4 Literature Rev 6 Gay History and the The .. 7 Theories 10 1 3 1 7 II. 1 9 6 Creating 9 3 1 III. 3 3 Identity Theory and Social Identity Theory 3 4 Collective Identity 8 Self Categorization T 41 4 3 IV. 5 What is social media? ............................................... ...................................................... . 4 8 50 52 53

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vii Isolation and De 56 Decreased Interpersonal Discourse .. 58 5 9 61 V. 63 6 6

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1 CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION There may be nothing more terrifying, more nerve racking than meeting a potential mate for the first time. The first date that time when your mind runs wild wondering who this person is, what this person looks like, and if there will be a second date. If you are a gay man, you met this person virtually, either in a gay chat room through an online community or on an online dating service As through any type of online dating straight or gay there is no one ensuring social norms are being followed, that this person is who they said they were. You may have seen a photo or two, chatted for a couple of days via messenger or text, and finally decided it was time to meet in person. By this point, you may have started to build a physical emotional and communicative perso na of that person in your mind, expecting someone who you hope fits into your fantasy. Yes, you have convinced yourself that you feel comfortable what they like or dislike, but do you really know this person? That question may cro ss your mind a couple of times, but you reassure arrives as you both decide to meet at that neutral site You arrive first, waiting and watching every guy who walks by. Is the person that shows up an acc urate representation of their virtual persona both physically and emotionally ? Are they communicating as much or as well as they did online? Do they fit into the preconceived idea that you formed in your mind based on how they marketed themselves to you on line? That is the conundrum levied upon the gay community as it continues to embrace and rely on the virtual world.

PAGE 9

2 We do not need scholars to tell us t he way people communicate is changing rapidly. What we do need scholars to tell us is how, a s technology advances, are we connecting or disconnecting to one another. Today, there are a number of ways in which people communicate: everything from face to face communication, letter writing, telephony communication, and electronic correspondence Deu ze (2011) argues that over the past few decades, people have had to find new ways to deal with constant change and immersion in media, information, and communications technologies (p. 137). Technology, the Internet and social media are no longer used for the primary function of communicating Rather 2011, p. 138). Much like the theory of p lay, which encourages disenfranchised group s to turn powerlessness into empowerment, technology has become the world in which marginalized groups can have a voice, seek out those who with similar thoughts and ideas, and advocate for changes within the geographic social structure. It is that search for meaning and belonging that has helped the gay and lesbian community come together to advance social acceptance and inclusion wi thin a heteronormative society. Through the use of technology the Internet and social media in particular gay men and lesbian women are bridging a gap in communication that is a result of a straight, male dominated society. However, there is a downside that is playing out across the country because of the hyper technological world in which we live a power shift in the way through media (Deuze 2011, p. 138). I argue that while the Internet and social applications have improved societal inclusivity among gay men and lesbian women, those same mediums have also challenged the tradition al definition of a geographic

PAGE 10

3 community, creating a coexisting virtual community, and, in the process undermining the interpersonal skills needed to sustain and maintain a community that is working to improv e itself M y thesis will begin with a historical overview of the formation of the gay community and the use and advantage of claiming public spaces through the t heory of p lay. I then take an in depth look at the use of Identity Theory within the gay and lesbian community showing how the community forme d and maintains itself as a subset of the greater society. I will finally provide an overview of social media and social apps concluding with the negative aspects of the newly created virtual world, which will include highlighting increased ambiguity, dec reased interpersonal relationships through increased isolation, and decreased interpersonal discourse. Throughout this thesis, the following key terms and phrases will be used with frequency, which need to be defined and explained. The first key term is the word community, and the definition I will rely on is provided by Craig (2008). He defines community as having the ability to strengthen the capacity of people as active citizens, promoting an independent voice for disadvantaged and vulnerable communities. The gay community developed and strengthened its own sense of being through verbal and physical action, developing and championing p olicy that worked in its fa vor. The second key term I will use with regularity is social applications. In addition to the Internet I will also focus on a handful of applications used by gay men. Gray (2014) defines these social applications as specialized program s that can be downloaded onto a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet. These social applications are a variation of the Internet because they primarily rely on a cell phone or wireless network, and are ownloaded onto a mobile device, such as a

PAGE 11

4 2014, p. 1). These apps offer a setting where people can engage in specific or general interactions with other like minded people. T h at is not to say that these apps are the only way gay men are communicating, but they are one important way of connecting to other gay men. The last key term, and the most important, is gay men. As a ga y man, I have chosen to focus my thesis on gay men instead of including the broader LGBTQ community. This is not meant to ignore specific information that may or may not pertain to lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and questioning individuals, and is not meant to diminish the importance of those marginalized groups. Simply, the majority of research is focu sed on gay men, which also correlates to what I have experienced as a gay male who has seen the transformation of the community firsthand into one that, at times, has become heavily reliant on virtual social interactions over personal social interactions. Focusing on a segment of the LGBTQ community allows a more concise review of my argument. A narrower focus also gives me the opportunity to highlight gaps in current LGBTQ research. Acknowledging these gaps will hopefully allow and encourage future researc hers to consider including the other letter s within the LGBTQ acronym giving those unique groups their own voice Research Methodology and Use of Theory I will be using an interdisciplinary approach as I work through my argument, emphasizing knowledge from across many traditional scholarly boundaries This is my preferred approach since, to me, it incorporates a much more pragmatic view of the issue. Repko (2012) agrees, stating that an approach that involves seeing the problem through In my opinion, conducting an analysis through a number of

PAGE 12

5 different lenses offers the reader a more comprehensive overview of the topic, its challenges, and conclusions that can be applied Being flexible with my approach gives the reader a more comprehensive view on the state of gay studies, especially when anal yzing how the gay community intersects with social technology such as gay dating apps. Some c urrent scholarship on the topic of gay studies uses a mixed methods approach, relying on qualitative research to tell a story and on quantitative research to show generational changes. For the purpose of my research, I will use a n interdisciplinary critical social science approach which is a modern utopian view that emphasizes the critical role social sciences plays to go beyond the surface of an argument to help c reate a better world structure (Neuman, 2009) ., This approach will examine and critique current research and scholarship from gay studies, political science, sociology, and communication while evaluating their consequences in order to support my argument t hat the gay community has become overly reliant on the virtual world through the use of social apps. Throughout my thesis I will devote individual chapters to four specific areas of study history political science, sociology and communications all of which give the reader the needed background and theories that support my argument. Within two of these chapters, various theories will be used to explain how communities are formed and why there is now a need for a definition th at incorporates aspects of a virtual world. Chapter T wo will offer a brief history of the gay community and incorporate the political science theory of p lay to help explain the politics of a gay neighborhood. Chapter T hree will explore the idea of social i dentity t heory in order to explain how the gay community formed and defined itself within a heteronormative society. Chapter F our will incorporate

PAGE 13

6 Discourse Ethics to explain the positive and negative aspects of a growing virtual world and how that world i ntersects with the maintenance of a physical community. Separating these theories into individual chapters allows me to better craft my argument through different areas of study. This will allow the reader to have a better informed approach to changing cer tain behaviors in themselves and others, while offering allies the background to create a more inclusive community that does not demand the abandoning of what makes the gay community unique. I argue that the over reliance on gay social apps has stifled the natural growth of community building, giving participants a passive form of interacting with others, which can lead to the deterioration of interpersonal communication skills. As much as the virtual world, specifically gay related apps, has helped, the gay community is in danger of experiencing a shift that is subsequently creating small silos that are keeping participants from experiencing the physical community in its entirety. Analyzing th e impact of social technology and social applications on the gay community through various lenses allows me to more fully argue that there is a growing disconnect within the gay community as more members continue to rely on social apps to create and mainta in community, opting out on the meaningful interpersonal interactions that once made the gay community such an important enclave. The gay community was complexly built out of the social oppression that culminated in the mid 1900s, placing a heavy emphasis on the use of the gay bar, gay community activities, and the gay neighborhood. As we move into the twenty first century, an increasing number of gay men are placing less of an emphasis on these public social outlets ( Norman, 2015) making it more difficult to maintain the core defining traits of the gay community, leaving the next generation of gay

PAGE 14

7 men without the history and the experiences that have gay men today have relied upon. By emphasizing this growing issue, my hope is that members of the gay commu nity begin to take a proactive approach to creating lasting interpersonal relationships through increased awareness of how the gay community was created and what it takes to maintain and build upon strong community bonds. Literature Review Within this lit erature review, I will use a few different theories, pulling from various academic fields, to produce and convey my argument. The theories and accompanying academic fields include the theory of play through the lens of LGBTQ studies and political science; the sociological view of identity theory; and communication studies. Commu nication studies, in particular, include the analytical tools offered by critical discourse analysis and articulation and assemblage. This literature review is organized by topic and follows the progression of my analysis, as I begin with a history of the LGBTQ community and how the community exemplified the theory of play, then finally conclude with the inclusion of communication studies, in particular social networking and social applications. Gay History and the Theory of Play Shortly following World War II, American cities were overwhelmed by a number of social and moral P oliticians from coast to coast many of who interpreted these social and moral differences as issues needing to be fixed, campaigned on platforms that offered closed For instance,

PAGE 15

8 politicians who pander to the electorate who fund their campaign s an overzealous police department, and growing visibility of racial and sexual minority groups throughout the city, which represented t he struggles felt by most major cities throughout the United States. Agee (2014) describes the creation of new communities within the city structure as a response to the political world which was a response to the traditional, family focused social conservative policies of the post World War II era. Scholars, including Swartz (2016 ), and each focusing on either the political or social ramifications of the majority society on minority societies. Each scholar shows the distinct efforts by the majority to persuade or harass thos e who go against these social norms to conform. As those communities became more prominent, the question arose as to who had geographic space with in a city. Mitchell (2003) describes rights as a means to social justice; a form of institutionalized and protected agreements between the government and its people. Swartz (201 6 ), in reference to the LGBTQ community, Swartz advocates that the gay community should have the same basic rights as their heterosexual counterparts when it comes to healthcare, spousal rights, etc. T here are flaws however, in how these rights are implemented within a social structure Mitchell (2003) argues that these flaws are embedded within the system that creates laws which are created to protect the privileged over the oppressed and minorities and tend to be developed to address specific social situation s or political movements. Mitchell argues that these legal flaws then force oppressed groups to claim the physical space they may have negotiated, producing an enclave that is welcoming for those seeking refuge,

PAGE 16

9 something we see within the creation and mai ntenance of the gay community. He adds that these rights need to be expressed in specific places that are designated, taken, or claimed by those in conflict. The connection between these enclaves and the greater community is that the city begins to create laws that represent all citizens. According to Harvey (2003), the se newly defined rights center on transforming a city in to what the collective we desires, not altering a city that promotes access for a select few Harvey a of awareness that individuals possess the freedom to make and remake ourselves and our cities (p. 1). One of the ways we are empowered to recreate our geographic space is through the theory of play, which Harvey argues tends to happen in radical fashion T he idea of having fun, exuding who you are through a very personalized and stylized way, is deeply rooted in gay culture. This action circles back to the development o f the gay neighborhood. Castells (2001) states that the media attention on the San Francisco B eatniks portrayed a sense of tolerance which extended to homosexuals reinforcing the city as a place where thousands of isolated gays all over the country could find solitude. Though the earliest communities like the Castro District in San Francisco and the West Village in New York City became the original refuges for gay men without any other place to go, other communities throughout the U.S. began to develop. T hrough th e development of these enclaves, the gay community began to further define who they were, what they stood for, and how they plan ned to give themselves a voice. This process of developing the gay community can be described in various ways, one of which is through the theory of play It is a concept that defines the way in which the gay community claimed its rights to the city and beyond. It was through play, Caste lls argues

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10 that gay culture was able to enrich urban culture throughout the U nited States. Music, art, and theater, among other things, were major influences on the political system, ultimately striking a balance between play and governance. Cassegrd (20 assessment of play, saying that play is the opposite of powerlessness, using perceived reality to emanate who one is through unconventional societal norms. He says actions arising as a response to powerlessness result in an empowered group emb racing the idea that its actions and opinions matter. Play, argues Cassegrd, creates an alternative space that offers a sanctuary or a sense of relief for the subalterns from the oppressiveness of mainstream society, providing relief from the pressures of mainstream society and helping regain a sense of agency. A prime example is the annual gay pride parade, where the LGBTQ community coalesce s to honor the past through performance while standing strong against past and future oppression. And it is through this form of play that the gay community has been able to enhance understanding among the greater urban communities that define the country, showing inclusiveness and acceptance of those who may not self identify as LGBTQ. Theories of Identity The creation of any community begins from an acknowledged common identity. Throughout this section, I will introduce research that focuses on social identity theory which includes aspects of collective identity theory and self categorization theory Within the context of my thesis, the development of the social self is important to look at treat ing the self as an object that balances between the actions and behavior of a person

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11 meaning of self presentation how people alter their appearances to a certain degree no matter their relationship to that individual or group. He does make the distinction that the less familiar the individual, the more manipulation and alteration is done. Gecas and Burke (1994) explore the social psychological perspectives o f self and identity, citing four different categories: (1) situational, (2) social structure, (3) biographical/historical, class, race, gender, and self evaluation. Owens (200 evaluation of self and identity T hough he focuses more on the role of the individual rather than the varying categories that Gecas and Burke identify, the four different categories are of self and identity can be applied to e xplain how the gay community was created Under the umbrella of social identity theory is collective identity theory an category, practice, or institution. Cooley (2011), through his looking glass self theory, introduces a reflected sense of being for the self, meaning how a person sees him/herself is dependent on those around him/her. There are three principle elements to this idea: (1) the imagination of our appearance to the other person, (2) the imagination of his judgment of that appearance, and (3) a source of emotion. This developm ent of the looking glass theory focuses on the development of the self being based on what we think others think. Mead (2011) argues one s character is interrelated, coming from the development of the mind, the self, and society. He says that the self is b oth a subject and

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12 inherently take to role taking : support each other sequ entially. First, a gay man views himself based on societal norms that tend to be less favorable (Cooley, 2011). Then the gay male, after being defined by others, engages in play that encourages him to embrace his otherness (Mead, 2011). Stets and Carter (2012) argue that numerous factors negative emotions. Stets and Carter explain that the identity verification process happens within situations th at rely on cultural expectations regarding how people should act and feel, assuming humans actively engage in goal oriented action as they interact with their environment. Stets and Carter conclude that individual identities carry their own shared meanings about how to interact based on the societal hierarchy. Burkitt (2008) explains the influences of society on the self, arguing we must first participate in a world of others that is formed by history and culture in order to become an individual self with a unique identity. He also assesses that the self is created around what we do and is often judged by those who are in the dominant or privileged sections of society a concept that can further define the creation and maintenance of the gay community The s econd sub theory under social identity is self categorization which explains why people consciously decide to categorize or place themselves into a particular group that is often in contrast or in competition with a dominant group. Demo (1992) tackles the regarding the self as an object. Demo suggests that social encounters, social situations and life transitions all play a role in how we view ourselves. Burke and Reitzes (1981) explore the connection between identity and role performance, suggesting that identity

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13 has three main characteristics: ( 1) identities are social products, ( 2) identities are formed in particular situations and organized in a hierarchy, and ( 3) are symbolic and reflective. They conclude that the two share common links, showing two performance variables: educational plans and participation in social activities. Gay men, while exploring their sexuality, often find solace in places where they can be social with one another, learning from others who have already walked the self identifying path. One of those places of solace lies within the online gay community a vast network of chat rooms, resource pages, and networking applications where gay men have immediate connections to others like them who have varying levels of experience within the gay community. But among the opportunities to connect online there are also drawbacks to this virtual world, which are explained below. Technology and Communication Scholars are quick to point out either the positives or influence on community without giving much flexibility to the idea that techn ology can be both good and bad. Being able to evaluate technology holistically allo ws for a more comprehensive pragmatic analysis. In an effort to show both sides of technology, I will first provide an overview of the good aspects of technology and communication before highlighting the potentially bad characteristics Brown, Maycock, and Burns (2005) argue that for marginalized groups, the Internet social applications, and social media are able to remove barriers associated with age, ethnicity, geography, and socioeconomic status Brown, et al. further explain the appeal of the Internet to gay men saying the reason a virtual world is so enticing is because there are relatively few places in which that population can meet without fear of negative social consequences. Evans (2012 ) explores

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14 communication and socialization, suggesting that v irtual worlds tend to not have a pre determined purpose, but that the purpose that develops centers around the need to socialize. He argues that these virtual environments allow people to establish communities, create friendships and experience romantic e ncounters among other things Baym (2010) argues that the online world can encourage people to feel less pressured to find a peaceful middle ground, which has the potential to lead to more civic engagement. By removing the face to face interaction, the on line world offers participants a veil of anonymity that has the potential to lower verbal filters and increase risk taking while encouraging contributors to take a more opinionated stance that may run contrary to the collective whole. While there are many positives that accompany this virtual community many of which I stated above there are plenty of negative aspects that need to be acknowledged and understood, such as increased ambiguity, decreased interpersonal relationships through increased isolation, and decreased meaningful discourse. Ambiguity In general, the Internet is seen as an environment in which to interact and socialize, especially for the gay and lesbian community. This virtual world has created a community of its own, but are participants w ith in this community projecting themselves in a way that is negatively impacts interpersonal communication? Does that even matter? pliable, allowing for a strategic w ay of presenting oneself to the virtual community. Rose, et al. (2012) maintains

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15 user increased opp ortunities for strategic self presentation, which tends to create an alternate reality for both parties involved. By limiting the interpersonal communication, a person can craft a persona that may not be entirely truthful which has the potential to be pro blematic when an in person connection is requested Research by Brown, Maycock, and Burn s (2005) conclude that gay men view and engage with the Internet differently compared to how they view and engage with other more traditional gay spaces, such as community centers resource centers, clubs, or bars. Brown, et al. examined the usage patterns of chat rooms and other social aspects of the Internet by gay m en in Western Australia in reg ards to meeting sexual partners. They concluded that this different approach influences the type of interaction between the men in the study, either online or face to face, how that interaction progresses, and how certain assu mptions and expectations are built and expounded. Certain characteristics are often exaggerated to over highlight positive attributes while masking potential faults. Zhao (2011) uses the looking glass theory which is mentioned above to explain how young ad ults view in social development, allowing a person to create a digital self that is more focused onversation. Isolation and Decreased Social Capital There have been few studies done regarding the effects of increased usage of the Internet and social apps. Some scholars found that the more people used the Internet the more their family and friend rela tionships suffered ( Mahmoudi, Amini, & Hosseinzadeh, 2014; Handel, 2001; Turkle, 2012 ) Other scholars have found that there is an increase in interpersonal relationships and meaningful connections between friends and family ( Nie,

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16 2001; Marwick & B oyd, 2014; Baym, 2010 ) At the center of this debate is whether or not Internet users end up feeling more isolated through decreased interpersonal relationships or whether the Internet can lead to greater communication and connection between family and fri ends. Nie (2001) argues that there is a steady decrease in social interaction with family and friends when you factor in the length of time of Internet use. The societal shift from geographic based communities to more of a virtual world is decreasing inter personal relationships among friends and companions and heightening isolation, even if there are initial signs of increased inclusion and connection. Mahmoudi, Amini, and Hosseinzadeh (2014) found that the use of the Internet affected interactions and comm unications among the students they studied. Mahmoudi et al. use of the Internet increasing rate o f Internet Though they did find that social interactions through a virtual medium can be beneficial, they argue that a balance must be found within the individual. If that does not happen, social isolation the feeling of despair and loneliness increase which decreases discourse within interpersonal relationships. Stern and Handel (2001) argue that the increased usage of technology increases alienation and deindividuation within the geograph ic community. Lee and Lee (2010) argue that even though online communities have the ability to enhance the communication ability of individuals due to technological to face communication in the form of the traditional community is still e

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17 Decreased Meaningful Discourse Along with ambiguity and isolation, general discourse also suffers within this virtual world as social sites and social apps have loosened verbal communication standards for gay men, allowing them to interact in more overtly sexualized ways. Stern and Handel (2001) argue that chat rooms give the user the choice to alter identities in any way they choose, which could lead to a breakdo wn of interpersonal relationships. Stern more common through technology when compared to face to face interactions They also found that normative sexual behavior heighted promiscuity and higher risk sexual encounters were seen to increase in some of the people involved in their research Joinson (1998) argues that the Internet and now other forms of social apps, removes social cues and provides an environment that almost encourages a decrease in inhibition. Clipson, Wilson, and DuFrene (2012) support stating that the lack of self censorship can create ill will and hurt feelings, even if that was not the intention because there are little to no consequences in breaking appropriate standards, etiquette, and rules L ee and Lee (2010) argue that even though online communities have the ability to enhance the co mmunication ability of individuals due to technological advantages, face to face communication in the form of a traditional community setting is still needed to maintain the community as a whole. Conclusion Throughout this chapter, I have crafted together the works of leading scholars from various academic fields to produce and convey my argument that the more gay men incorporate technology into their daily lives without the idea of creating a healthy hybrid

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18 community the more interpersonal relationships have the potential to suffer. I h a ve shown how different theories, when analyzed together can support a stronger, more cohesive argument that offers real world solutions to readers and future scholars Looking ahead, I will support my argument by setting up an interdisciplinary approach through political science, sociology, and communication. In Chapter T wo I will offer a brief overview of gay history, starting with the Mattachine Society in the 1950s all the way to present day polling and opinions around gay rights. I will also explain how the political science theory of play influenced the way the gay community developed within larger city settings. In Chapter T hree I will intro duce various theories of identity that explain how gay men shaped who they were and what their community wanted to become. This will incorporate the sociological aspect of my research to show why gay men incorporated virtual aspects into day to day lives. Chapter F our will highlight the positives and negatives to communicating within a virtual world by introducing technology and social applications and explaining their impact to the gay community as a whole. This chapter will support my argument that too mu ch reliance on social apps has the strong potential to be detrimental to social discourse. Chapter F ive will summarize my argument and encourage further research into the LGBTQ community as it relates to the growing inclusion of technology into daily lives.

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19 CHAPTER II A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF GAY HISTORY The G ay R ights M ovement (Canaday, 2009) which includes the push for m arriage equality tax equality, physical safety, and overall acceptance. Given this shift, we can see strong parallels between the G ay R ights M ovement and the Civil Rights Movement the fight to marry, the fight for equal protection under the law, and the breaking of stigmas placed upon a minority community by the heteronormativ e majority. For gay couples looking for marriage equality, the results of the 2012 election represented a significant ideological shift toward that equality. Not only did the general populous elect a socially progressive president for a second term in 2011 more states began to either overturn same sex marriage bans or vote to recognize those marriages. Since then, the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in to decide the constitutionality of same sex marriage bans. In June 2015, the Supreme Court ruled 5 4 that marr iage bans were unconstitutional. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion for Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) of the law. The Cons titution grants them that right (p. 33 ). But even with this progress, there is still a fight to keep the rights gaine d over the past few decades. In 2016, the most u nlikely of outcomes took place on Election Day when Republican nominee Donald J. Trump was elected president. Since then, president elect Trump has nomina ted anti LGBTQ cabinet members raising eyebrows throughout gay communities across the country ( 2016; Potential Trump Cabinet Members Have Deeply Troubling Anti LGBTQ Records 2016). These parallels and many others can help and are helping build a

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20 community where people can come together to overcome the injustices placed upon them, calling for equality from the many for the few. Just as the C ivil R ights M ovement broke through Middle A merica and the mainstream media in the 19 60s, the G ay R ights M ovement is breaking through similar social barriers today. Canaday (2009) argues that rights history, in wh ich the achievement of federal protection is seen as constituting a key Throughout this chapter, I will provide a condensed history of the gay community and of gay culture. In this case, culture and community will be used inter changeably since there is a strong link between community and the culture it absorbs ( Castells 2001). What is gay culture? Speaking as a former journ alist and a gay male the answer to this question is as individualistic as if you were to ask what it meant to be an Americ an. Gay culture was born out of a common goal : first of survival, then of being understood, and of having its values and beliefs legitimized by the normative society. the fact that Americans are a diverse people, but also that they have distinctive ways of 2009, p. 38). But do members of the gay community actually have a sense of belonging in America? Will gays and lesbians ever be held at t he same level of equality as their heterosexual peers? In his 2010 State of the Union was congressionally repealed later that year. A May 201 5 Gallup Poll revealed that 60 percent of Americans support ed same sex marriage, a month before the Supreme Court issued its ruling (McCarthy, 2015). The poll shows that a cross the political spectrum,

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21 support for gay marriage has reached new highs with Democrats at 76 percent suppo rt, independents at 64 percent, and Republicans at 37 percent. McCarthy argues that the High 60% of Americans Support Same Sex Marr 8 ). Even though very few Republicans supported same sex marriage in that survey, their support has nearly doubled since Gallup began polling on the question in 1996. Additionally, the most recent survey found that one in four Americans say political candidates must share their views on gay marriage up from 16 percent in 2004 and 2008 High 60% of Americans Support Same 9 ). McCarthy argues that the political implications could be significant on a national level for a GOP candidate because of the growing majority support among all Americans. We see evidence of that in the 2016 election. Among the number of insulting and hateful statements made by Republican Candidate Donald J. Trump Mr. Trump has portrayed himself as a warrior for gays Trump Calls Himself a Champion of Gay Rights. Hang On a Second. His portrayal i s at odds with his stance on gay marriage Politifact states that Mr. Trump has opposed same sex marriage in interviews since 2000 Supreme Court marriage equality decision in favor of having states decide Donald Trump is against same sex marriage 14). Even though polling shows record support for gay marriage as just mentioned above, there is still plenty of work to be done especially with a Trump presidency History shows that, in addition to key legislation,

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22 gra ssroots efforts must continue to move the needle of acceptance throughout America as a whole. Harry Hay would agree. Hay is considered the founder of gay liberation, having started the underground Mattachine Society, the first modern gay rights organizatio n, in 1950 (Cusac 1999, p. 1). The Mattachine Society was created to offer a safe place for gay men to meet other gay men, to make a connection as simple as friendship which was otherwise not socially acceptable. Hay was one of the first people to call fo r equality during a time when it was rare to find anyone who would openly talk about being gay. u have changed are goin ited in Cusac 1999, p. 10). argument is that an organic form of change, one which comes from authentic connections between two people, will manifest itself and spread outside the initial sphere of influence. Hay wanted gay men to embrace their minority status in an effort to strengthen its community long before it was ever an idea within the movement Hay wrote, Yet when Stonewall burst open the scene sixteen years later (from the first Mattachine Society meeting) the new brothers and sisters assumed everybody had always known we were a cultural minority since Day One! as politics, economics, and religion, prevented many gay men from accepting who they were. But then an alternate version of what Hay envisioned developed in the 1960s on both U.S. coasts as riots swept New York City in the late 60s while political activism and social building created a gay mecca in San Francisco

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23 T his urban revolution was a response to a violent, unjust, and oppressive police department, like many in this country, which targeted this particular segment of society. On June 27, 1969, New York City police officers raided the Stonewall Inn, a Manhattan gay bar (Figure 1) The reaction to this routine raid ended in revolutionary fashion. (2003) depicts an urban area of decay where people were clamoring for a Square, a busy Village intersection. Patrons of the Stonewall tended to be young and nonwhite. Many we re drag queens, and many came from the burgeoning ghetto of 2003, p. 32). The urban revolution that resulted from being repeatedly targeted by an unjust police force pushed New York City into chao Almost by signal the The patrons involved in this unjus t treatment engaged in a way that not only brought to light the seriousness of their plight, but gave the country and the world an i nside look at in the injustice. Figure 1: Police hold back a crowd while arresting patrons at the Stonewall Inn the night of June 27, 1969. Photo by: Joseph Ambrosini/ The New York Daily News

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24 As Fainstein and Fainstein (1985) argue, there are three reasons for conflict: ( 1) community control issues, ( 2) demands on community programs (or the demand not to take them away), and ( 3) defense of community areas (p. 190). People involved in the Stonewall Riots reasonably felt as if their community was under attack it was forcing them to react People began to rise up, ultimately defending the local public space which the people had built. When these factors come together, urban movements gain results: At any given time, different urban settings will be more or less conducive to the rise of political factors: (1) the ability of political parties and government institutions to contain and channel mobilizations; (2) the relative receptivity of local regimes to action group formation and pressure; (3) the unity of urban elites; and (4) the availability of alternat ive political ideas that can create an oppositional consciousness among a significant sector of the citizenry. (Fainstein & Fainstein 1985, p. 192) As Piven and Cloward (1979) explain, community unrest happens when the social structure that has been creat ed as the collective norm fractures Riots, in their view, should be seen as tool to seek economic and social change Under certain social conditions, riots and disruptions, for some, are the only form of political express ion : This argues that it not only requires a major social dislocation before protest can emerge, but that a sequence or combination of dislocations probably must occur before the anger that underlies protest builds to a high pitch, and before that anger c an find ex pression in collective defiance. (Piven & Cloward 1979, p. 8) Florida (2011) argues cit ies veritable cauldrons, in which political energy and activism are pressured and brought to a boil ( 3 ). Social upheaval is also a reaction from a group of people who say which tends to ignite movement s that were kept in the closet for fear of persecution. Once these riots begin, especially if they are successful word spreads quickly:

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25 Word of the Stonewall riot and GLF [Gay Liberation Front] spread rapidly among the networks of young radicals scattered across the country, and within a year gay liberation groups had sprung into existence on college campuses and in cities around the nation 2003, p. 33) What was solely a subaltern group a group without a voice in the political conversation grasp ed for leverage in the U.S. political and cultural system through revolutionary actions marked a critical divide in the 2003, p. 37). But that is not the only w ay the gay community reacted to the oppression hurled at them from law enforcement and the broader public. O n the West Coast, a small enclave of this subaltern community was continuing to reinvent and transform itself within one of the biggest American cit ies. The Castro District in San Francisco demonstrates how a community can, against social norms, become a geographic world capital for a small, yet significant, segment of society. At the core of searching for self fundamental characteristic of the gay liberation movement in San Francisco, which makes it more than a human (Castell s 2001, p. 181). The Castro District like many othe r gay enclaves, is a direct response from a population that was, and continues to be, marginalized. Before there was a national movement for equality, there was a foundation literally and figuratively created within major cities like San Francisco. Castell they traced boundaries and created their own territory. These boundaries expanded with the increasing capacity of gay people to defend themselves and to build up a series of aut

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26 In San Francisco, the development of the Castro District sought to build community and solidarity over a partic ular part of the city that gay men could call their own (Figure 2) This quest to be with like are beaten and killed because of whom they love, even in a city where they share institutional power 2001, p. 205). In the end or maybe in the beginning in order for the gay community to evolve and thrive, it needed to find space to call its own. Claiming Public Space Finding p hysical, geographic space was not an easy task. It was however, an important step in creating and maintaining the gay community. Each gay community, according to Castells, had their own process for claiming this space, a process that was in some cases very public. For example, i n the East Village of New York City, the community took to the streets after years of police authoritarianism In San Francisco, the gay community literally claimed a neighborhood as their own, selecting a part of the city that was rundown and not quite as impor tant to the heterosexual majority, creating Figu re 2: O penly gay San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk rides in a car during a San Francisco Pride Parade in the 1970s. Photo by: Terry Schmitt

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27 geographic a geographic These boundaries and territories were created in the form of neighborhoods that sprouted up across the country with in major metropolitan areas. Castells (2001) explains the importance of creating these types of boundaries by quoting Harry Britt, a political scattered, they are not gay, beca Creating that space was a crucial step within the gay community because it acted as a way for gay men to express who they were levied against them by community was also a way to vocally advocate for increased rights. Castells (2001) able to substantia without its fair amount of challenges. But because of a general call for equal rights on a local level, there slowly developed an understanding of where the majority and minority groups st ood. Like any understanding, however, there are systemic flaws in how these rights can end up being stated. These r ights often protect the privileged over the oppressed and hence the formation of the gay e nclave Rights can also be situational ly based; usually addressing specific social situations or political movements (Mitchell 2003, p. 23), such as the city of Denver imposing harsh anti ( Dykes, 2014). Mitchell (2003) describes the struggle for rights as a producer of gay community particularly since the Stonewall Riots. Once space is created, there is a

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28 continued struggle over equal space and enforcing the rights of all people Mitchell argues, 29). Mitchell takes this argument a step further by int cited in Mitchell 2003, p. 30). Therefore, rights need to be expressed in specific places that are eithe r designated for us rather than by oeuvre [a work in which all (c ited in Mitchell 2003, p. 18). Harvey (2003) argues that citizens have indisputable rights to city centers, giving them collective ownership to create an inclusive community for all walks of life. Moreover, he argues that power over the processes of urbanization, over the ways in which our cities are made and re made fundamental and radical way (Harvey 2003, p. 2). The gay community took it upon themselves to revolutionize their space, remaking and reshaping what was t here parades, neighborhood watches, and store fronts, to name a few into something that was inclusive. Parades within the gay community for example, became more than a just a celebration of an event or a holiday. The gay pride parade became a symbol of se lf expression, mixing loud colors, powerful music, and the occasional nudity. Through this self expression, the gay community commandeered their right to a part of the city and gained it through various actions and modifications of heteronormative events a nd structures that may not have been socially acceptable. Harvey

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29 precious yet most neglec p. 1). Community alone is not the only thread that weaves t he pieces together for the advancement of social norms and acceptance from the community and the state. Play was and is vital to the progression of gay culture. Creating Community through Play Within any gay district, s uch as the Castro District in San Francisco, the West Village in New York City, or Boys Town in Chicago, the idea of having fun conveying who you are through a very personalized extravagant way is an unspoken yet accepted ircles back to the development of the Castro District. T he Castro was one of a very small handful of places where you were encouraged to be yourself. Castells argues that big cities like San Francisco offered gay men the opportunity e, turn op pression into creation, and subvert established values by emphasizing their ridiculous aspects. Bars, feasts, and celebrations should be, they believe, the nest of gay culture, as they are one of the primary sources of a vibrant city (Castells 2001, p. 185 ). San Francisco, thus, became a refuge for gay men who no longer had a home as many gay men were no longer welcomed by their birth families. San Francisco ultimately became a melting pot of different backgrounds and viewpoints, urban culture because it has been able to substantially modify the political 2001, p. 211). What made the modified political system successful was ut ilizing what scholars call the theory of p lay. Cassegrd defines play as not being the opposite of reality, as is often asserted, but the opposite of powerlessness. Play arises grd, this sense of empowerment is instrumental for giving the disenfranchised hope and empower ment

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30 while building self confidence : their actions and opinions matter and that they have the power to influence things in ing theme that helped not only shape the community it is today, but change the minds of those who may have frowned upon the gay community. This form of play the use of music and dance is a way for gays and lesbians to forget about their daily troubles and to focus on the good that can come out of their neighborhood, the art they can produce for th eir neighbors and for the world: Play is important for empowerment since it mitigates the tension between abstract and concrete modes of interaction, providing re lief to the subaltern from the pressures of mainstream society and helping them regain a sense of agency. Play should not be understood as necessarily separated from reality, but as the opposite of powerlessness (Cassegrd 2012, p. 2) Play is much more than just throwing a party and having fun. For Cassegrd, play creates an alternative space that offers a sanctuary or a sense of relief for the subalterns from the oppressiveness of mainstream society : somethi ng which I suggest occurs in particularly empowering moments in street parties 2012, p. 2). We see this in the formation of the Castro District, where a group of gay men took over an area that had been neglected, an area tha t nobody wanted, and creat ed their own city within a city: mainstream society but they also need to consolidate themselves and to be bas es for 2012, p. 11). The Castro provided shelter and space for the gay communit y to develop and grow The district was also a safe haven during times of crisis such as the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s (Eaklor, 2008) Throughout it all, play was

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31 integral in maintaining and developing the gay community into what it is today. In order to develop that original foundational support Cassegrd argues the gay community needed to temporary withdrawal from the greater society in order to become self liberated gain power and define themselves. [t] he gay community is one of the main organizers of popular celebrations in San Francisco, some the economic support for the Once that happened, Cassegrd states they needed to return to mainstream society to foster social change, encouraging different communities to accept them. Conclusion While the Castro was being devel oped with a focus on gay owned shops and gay themed entertainment, gay men in San Francisco were still faced with major social barriers that they needed to overcome. As Castells points out, in order to be a society within a society, there needed to be a se nse of organization that would transform the oppression into something more. What spawned from this insulation was the politicization of the gay mo vement and a transition into a strategic approach to political and social reforms in San Francisco and across the country. This chapter is not meant to be a detailed history of a group that is still making strides politically and socially even as pushback is currently taking place within today s political climate with president elect Trump s cabinet nominations and a vice presi dent elect who has a deep history of anti LGBTQ policies The purpose of this chapter is to give the reader a basic understanding of gay history and some of the struggles that gay men and lesbian women went through to get us to where the community is today. But looking at what makes up the geographic

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32 history of a community only goes so far. To get a more in depth look at what creates a community, we need to take into consideration what brings certain people together. On a superficial level, being a gay male or a lesbian woman would inherently bring you closer to other likeminded people. When we analyze social theory, however, there is much more of explanation beyond sexual orientation. Even though these neighborhoods developed out of a common goal, how people chose to identify with one another helped fostered a community that was able to flourish and make social changes. In order to better support my argument, the following chapter will introduce various theories of identity to explain how gay men shaped who they were and what their community wanted to become. Chapter F our will incorporate communications, technology and social applications showing their impact on the gay community

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33 CHAPTER III THEORIES OF IDENTITY A typical city has a network of neighborhoods that develop from a city center, creating enclaves for different cultural groups that provide the city and adjoining neighborhoods with specific services and industry. For example, many cities are sectioned into different zones, including different levels of industry, commercial use, and residential. The creation of neighborhoods is a visual expression of particular settlement and is the basis of an underlying social structure (Castells, 2001, p. 20). As Castells notes, these neighborhoods tend to provide their residents with a sense of comfort and security, and they often express the general dynamic of the city itself. This chapter will focus on why gay specific neighborhoods were born as a direct response to the dominant group by a marginalized population that had been emotionally devitalized through social inequalities and injust ices (Taylor, 2000, p. 271). In San Francisco, for example, the development of the Castro District allowed gay men to mentally and emotionally grow alongside like minded people (Castells, 2001, p. 205). Throughout this chapter, I will review research using identity theory and social identity theory which includes aspects of collective identity theory and self categorization theory to explain how gay and lesbian communities and neighborhoods were formed and why they are important identifiers for the gay comm unity. for example, but the overt segregation that created the original ghettoes like the Castro in San Francisco are slowly becoming less evident as more cities and states pass equa l protection laws. As mention in Chapter Two, the most recent Gallup Poll showed 60

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34 percent of Americans supported same sex marriage (McCarthy, 2015). That is a seven percent increase from the previous poll conducted in 2013 and a 16 percent increase from a 2010 poll (Jones, 2013). Social changes like these are rooted in the evolution of the gay community as it has responded to the larger society in which it belongs. To explain how the identity of the gay and lesbian community and its individual participant s formed and evolved, I will now define and explain identity theory and social identity theory which includes the supporting components of collective identity theory and self categorization theory Identity Theory and Social Identity Theory Identity theory and social identity theory are often used interchangeably (Stets & Burke, 2000). Identity theory, a concept originated by Stryker (2008), is defined as various identities that comprise the self which exist with in a hierarchy of importance ( salience ). The person who develops these various identities tends to rank them by frequency of use or which ones will be used more frequently in situations that involve different parts o f the self (Stryker 2008; Desrochers Andreassi & Thompson 2004) Id entity theorists argue that a person retains a number of identities, each of which is based on occupying a particul a r role (Stryker, 1968; Stryker & Burke, 2000 ; Davenport, 2016 ). That distinction is important in defining the gay community because gay men have often had to project varying identities based on public and private situations. And, one could argue, that gay men still are doing that today in regards to the geographic and virtual communities in which they reside. Davenport (2016) supports my argum ent, Individuals are performers in particular roles, and the meanings associated with identities are learned from the reflected appraisals of others

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35 are judged within certain social situations both gay and straight have only helped develop and define their identities. But identity theory alone does not adequately define the self, especially when it comes to the gay community. Stets and Burke (2000) a rgue that identity theory and social identity theory should be viewed as a combination to provide a more absolute theory of the self. For them, there are three areas that are crucial to linking the two theories. First, acknowledging that categories and groups (social identity theory) and roles (identity theory) are, at the cor e, the same. The second area is the use of salience in both theories. And third, Stets and a basic process that leads to similar conclusions depersonalization (socia l identity theory) vs. self verification (identity theory) and self esteem (social identity theory) vs. self efficacy (identity theory). The three areas above lead to a definition that combines reflexive in that it can take itself as an object and can categorize, classify, or name itself in particular ways in relation categorization or identification, an identity is forme authors are pushing for a more comprehensive and cohesive definition of the two theories is that one group can be evaluated in two separate ways which leads to separate conceptualizations and understandings By taking a more interdisciplinary approach with these two theories of identity, we can deduce in greater certainty how the gay community was created and how it is maintained. The gay community as with any community is complex and the identity lens in wh ich one evaluates it must be reflective in complexity.

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36 Stets and Burke (2000) agree, arguing that a merging of the two theories will give theorists a deeper understanding on macro meso and micro level social processes. Stryker (2000) argues that identity theory and social identity theory are interchangeable since both theories deal with conflicts that stem from in group/out group categories. For my argument and for the purpose of this thesis, s ocial identity theory represents a better way of defining and explaining how gay communities and neighborhoods were created and are maintained Because of this, I will use social identity theory when referencing Stryker and his article. Stryker claims there are four implicatio ns of social identity and identity salience the likelihood an identity will come into play in a variety of situations as a function of its properties as a cognitive schema (p. 28). The four are: (1) cognitive schemas can be situational; (2) identities can be self reinforcing; (3) identities are motivational; and (4) identities can influence action independent of the commitments affecting them (p. 28). The reason there are four implications, according to Stryker, is to have a sense of variability because par ticipation within the social structure is variable. He argues that a theory based on a cultural conception of identity or a theory invoking collective identities are not sufficient enough to define a social movement or a social cause (p. 29). He goes on to argue that the internal hierarchy of social identity and such as the gay community, different from his or her counterpart. Those differences are based on a number of different factors that are better accounted for through a connected approach. Stryker also looks at the group as a whole, suggesting there are varying degrees identity changes throughout the life of a movement (p. 30). An interesti ng point that Stryker makes is that of choice and commitment. Stryker argues that

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37 commitment is a choice that an individual makes, adding that in group and out group commitments can vary in depth depending on the identity salience given to each individual group. As I work to include social identity theory into my argument, there is a gap that needs to be documented. Huddy (2001) explains this gap best by examining social identity theory and criticizing it for its limited impact due to the lack of acknowled gement of historical and cultural complications by theorists. His criticisms explain the formation of social identity theory as a concept where people assume a group label through a form of membership where they categorize themselves as such and internaliz e the group label and their social identity. Recognizing historical components can further offer researchers a better understanding of the outside influences that accompany identity. Huddy singles out four issues that have hindered the successful applicati on of social identity theory. The first is that there is an existence of identity choice, meaning that there are instances where people are no longer assigned their identity due to historical shifts (Huddy, 2001, p. 137). The second is that identity meanin gs are subjective and personal Third, there are degrees of identity strength within different groups and among individual actors (p. 145). Finally, there is a question regarding the stability of social and political identities and how often they are relie d upon for action (p. 147). He concludes with a few ways theorists can apply social identity theory arguing that there needs to be a greater scope of real world identities studied on a group and individual level and an acknowledgement that individual diffe rences will never fully explain identity development even if more focus is given to an interrelated process (Huddy, 2001).

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38 Collective Identity Theory Collective identity theory is important to look at because of its colorful history within social movemen ts, which will help answer why gay communities and neighborhoods exist. T heorists like Polletta and Jasper (2001) have studied social cognitive, moral, and emotional c onnection with a broader community, category, practice, or institution (p. 285). In the past, collective identity theory had been either too broadly or narrowly applied, causing disjointed results and pushing theorists to look at other explanations. Theori sts credit the social movements of the 80s and the 90s (the gay movement in particular) for bringing collective identity theory back in favor. Currently, theorists are turning to collective identity theory to answer four questions: (1) Why collective actor s come into being when they do? (2) What motivates people to act? (3) identities? You can find answers to the above questions layered within the gay community, most of which are centered on the motivation to create an enclave and maintain that safe space. Polletta and Jasper (2001) describe collective identity as imagined as well as concrete communities, and it is fluid and relational, emerging out of interactions with a identity and does not represent ideological commitment to a particular movement. It does, however, mean that a person can have identities of varying strengths based on the interactio n, similar to identity theory mentioned above. The concept of collective identity through social movements has emerged and has become an important tool for examining the way social injustices are translated into the

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39 everyday lives of the actors (Taylor, 2000, p. 271). Simon, Loewy, Strmer, Weber, Freytag, Habig, Kampmeier, and Spahlinger (1998) also link collective identity with social movements, arguing that members of disadvantaged groups who are not satisfied with situation. They compared two studies U.S. gay movement through a qualitative questionnaire over an unspecified period of tim e in an attempt to move to a more causal analysis of role identification in social movement practice. Both studies measured identification with a broad social category, identification with the movement, a collective motive, a social motive, the reward moti ve and their willingness to participate in the movement. Simon, et al. (1998) found that the willingness to participate in collective action was significantly related to collective identification, both at the level of the broader recruitment category and a t the level of the specific social movement (p. 650). They also found that identification on the social movement level helped retain predictive value when the three motives collective, social, and reward were included. This is important because when people identified with a particular social movement, it prompted them to participate in one form or another. In terms of my study, when gay men found themselves in a gay district associating with other gay men, they were able to put a collective voice to one mes sage and bring others to their cause. Simon, Trtschel, and Dhne (2007) analyzes two studies conducted to gauge These studies explain collective identity in conjunc tion with identity affirmation within social movements. The support of the social movement is the enactment of a particular

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40 politicized group or social category membership, and collective identification operates as the basic social psychological process un derlying movement support (Simon & 936). What they found was that people wh o strongly identified with the peace movement showed more identity affirming behavior such as donating more money to an organizatio n when identity relevant doubts or feelings of guilt were highlighted. When those who identified with a group did not feel a sense of urgency or an inherent need to show their support, mobilization was limited. As a construct of collective identity, different emotions play an important role with in social movements. Taylor (2000) focuses on how the postpartum self help groups ad vance care throughout a male dominated social structure while promoting female bonding, how these groups increase desirable self identities, and how the collective identity is promotes an alternative view of mothering (p. 276). Though it may seem out of pl movements such as the gay movement. Taylor uses this movement to show how collective identity promotes and encourages women to share common experiences of subordination, particularly in regards to gender (Taylor 2000, p. 278). Taylor adds that the importance of collective identity is enhanced through the lens of social movement and social activism (p. 272). She notes that in order for a group to find collective solutions, social movements must seek out the similarities among its members that would represent the group as a whole (p. 279). This is particularly important for the gay community because shared emotional experiences often encourage people to come together. For

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41 exa mple, when 49 people were killed and 53 were injured on June 12, 2016, at Pulse, a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, gay communities around the world came together to honor the victims and share the emotion left by that atrocity. Gay men were able to come tog ether to share similar emotional stories and scars given to them by family, friends, and society of being targeted for simply being gay. Self Categorization Theory The theory of self categorization is a way to explain why people consciously decide to cate gorize or place themselves into a particular group that is often in contrast or in competition with a dominant group (Stryker, 2000, p. 24). Feilding and Hogg (1997) describe self categorization as a way leadership ultimately garners a following. They argu e that the strength of a group grows as more people strongly identify themselves with a specified group. This form of identity categorization is something we readily see throughout the history of the gay community. Gay individuals make the conscious choice to categorize themselves with a particular group. This is not to say that being gay is a choice. Rather, I argue that social norms created by a particular community are adopted at the choice of the individual. These social norms and social influences high light an important aspect of self categorization theory because they help explain how an individual defines the self, how deeply one wants to categorize themselves within a particular community, and the extent of engagement one chooses to take. For theoris ts like Oldmeadow, Platow, Foddy, and Anderson (2003), social influences shape the core of self categorization. Two aspects of social structure that stand which can influenc e social situations based on assumed expectations. They argue that

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42 not because those individuals are experts but because they are similar to themselves in important ways perceptions based on other in group members, everything from immediate family to political activist groups, and there is an expectation that these ideas and beliefs are common among all participants. In their research, self categorization is not a new theory, but an expansion of social identity theory, and their concept of self categorization still relies on an in group/out group categorization. Overall, the purpose of their argument is to compare self categorization theory with status characteristic theory, which is most important when looking at the development and maintenance of the LGBT community as an application of self categorization theory. What they found was that self catego rization generated expectations of competence through social influences within the two group sets (Oldmeadow et al., 2003). especially when disenfranchised groups develop and ad opt their own slang using the dominant language as the overarching foundation Reid, Keerie, and Palomares (2003) capitalize on the opportunity to showcase how language use is influenced by gender through self categorization. Within the gay community, memb ers unconsciously use tentative language, such as tag questions (ending a statement with a question of confirmation), hedges (including short phrases that imply self doubt) and disclaimers (outwardly acknowledging even the slightest lack of knowledge) (Rei d et al., 2003, p. 210 211). Their study concludes that minority groups unconsciously use this type of language to confirm the heterosexual, male dominated social structure in order to gain

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43 greater social influence. Self categorization theory emphasizes th e consideration of historical and contextually relevant basis for social comparisons as pertaining to men and categorization theory is a social cognitive approach to 15). The theory reinforces that all collective behavior is a subjective self definition shift from self as an individual to self as a group member. It is not a depersonalization or a loss of the self; rather, it is a development of a shared identity. Self categorization can be helpful in these contexts because it can determine how a male or a female might communicatively interact with one another given the identity salience of the interaction. On a broader sense, self categorization can help explain and det ermine how gay and lesbian group members and a presumed straight society might communicatively interact. Conclusion The theories described in this chapter should allow the reader to evaluate identify theory and social identity theory as well as the compon ents that make up social identity theory namely collective identity theory and self categorization theory to explain how and why gay and lesbian communities and neighborhoods formed and to ultimately evaluate important identifiers for the LGBT community. B ecause of the inherently strong connection between social identity within the gay community and the need for a collective identity, these theories offer the tools to maintain the present geographic community. But that only satisfies a part of what the gay community has become. There is a virtual element that has created a sub community that also relies heavily on these identity theories. With that, the individual needs to take an active role in combining these two worlds to create one identity. But how can these two worlds become linked? One

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44 way the gay community has already started on this process is the claiming of public spaces geographically making parts of the city their own and claiming aspects of the virtual world as gay friendly outlets for people to express who they are in a variety of ways. So far, I have introduced a brief overview of gay history and the theory of play in Chapter T wo. Throughout this chapter, I have explained various theories of identity to argue how gay men shaped who they were and what their community wanted to become. The next chapter will incorporate communications, technology, and social applications showing their impact on the gay community. Finally, I will conclude by rephrasing my argument and suggesting additional researc h to encourage parity among the other letters within the LQBTQ acronym.

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45 CHAPTER IV TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIAL APPS Technology is changing faster and faster every year. It seems that there is always something newer and better being offered to the consumer. There are so many options that technology has changed the way people communicate with each other. Baym (2010) state s me the Internet almost no time to develop 72). Because of this rapid advancement, people today have a number of ways to communicate with each other, which encompasses everything from face to face communication, letter writing, telephony communication, and electronic correspondence. It is that last form of communication electronic correspondence that has spurred this thesis and has prompted the question : when does the digital world bec ome detrimental to a community? Baym would argue that technology has not hurt communities, but rather has helped by allowing online groups to regardless of location (p. 72). Initially, it was this shared interest that brought the gay community together allowing gay men to find others who wanted to advance social acceptance and inclusion within a heteronormative society. As I stated in my introduction, I argue that while the Internet and social applications have improved inclusivity among gay men, those same mediums have also allowed the traditional definition of community fragment into a geographic and coexisting virtual community, and, in the process has clouded the inte rpersonal skills needed to sustain a working, progressive community. In this chapter, I will offer a brief overview of social media and an abstract view of the theory of discourse ethics in order to comprehensively argue that

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46 negative aspects of the virtua l world increased ambiguity, decreased interpersonal relationships through increased isolation, and decreased meaningful discourse have created a community that has become fractured due to the integration and broad acceptance of the virtual world. Before we go any further, I want to review some key terms that will be used throughout this chapter. First, references to the Internet will broadly encompass any connection made through a virtual connection, including social media. I will use the definition of the Internet provided by Brown, Maycock, and Burn s (2005), who describe the Internet as a setting where people can engage in spec ific or general social interactions, giving them the ability to seek out information, knowledge, and perspective. Brown, et al. further define the Internet specialised [sic] chat rooms, bulletin boards, and other settings, each possibly developing Second, as mentioned in my introduction, I will use to reference programs tha t can be downloaded to a smart phone or tablet. Using the definition provided by Gray (2014) in my introduction, social applications lar, the focus will be on a handful of networking and dating apps that are being used to facilitate communication among gay men (Figure 3) For example, Grindr gay social networking app e (Grindr

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47 to connect with the biggest network of nearby guy Grindr.com, the end goal is to encourage men to meet in person, thus turning off the app to enjoy the conversation and social interaction. Again, even though t hese apps allow men and women to connect utilizing their smartphones or tablets they are not the only avenues being used. These apps simply represent a segment of the entire virtual world with a focus on showing how people have shied away from a neighborhoo d setting to connect with others Finally, as mentioned throughout this thesis and in an effort to continue keeping my argument focused, gay men instead of the LGBTQ co mmunity as there is already heavy emphasis within research on the gay male population. This is not meant to ignore specific information that may or may not pertain to bisexual, transgendered, and questioning individuals and is not meant to diminish the imp ortance of those marginalized groups. Figure 3: A marketing photo from Grindr.com. The platform above has a similar look to other gay dating apps.

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48 What is S ocial M edia? Technology has come a long way in a short period of time, instantly connecting people who may otherwise not be able to meet face to face. Part of that technology that is connecting people is social media and social applications, commonly found through the Internet or on a smart phone. From the early days of the Internet to interpersonal, non mediated, and mass forms of media social media ca n be defined with a broad definition (Rasmussen, 2011, p. 223) On the most basic level, social media gives the individual the ability to correspond and share ideas, thoughts, news, facts, and fiction with friends or who have some sort of inter est, whether that be a personal or sexual group of Internet based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the cr eation and exc hange of user generated content (p. 60). Web 2.0 is a loosely defined intersection of web application features that encourages online participatory information sharing, user centered design, and collaboration. Some examples of Web 2.0 applic ations are Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Google+, and YouTube Participants use social media for a number of different purposes, including for business, personal, social, and political reasons Businesses are expanded across a number of platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, to market their product or bra nd. Twitter describes itself as time information network that connects an individual to s such as Facebook are used to share photos, stories, ideas, and general thoughts that are personal and self reflective. Facebook describes its mission

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49 Other platforms, such as Myspace, Google+, and YouTube, provide the public with similar results. The above programs and others not mentioned are monetarily free for the average user. Each offers the ability to create a highly personalized experience conne cting individuals to others they may or may not have had the chance to interact with in the past. These platforms also allow consumers to become co creators of the software content, artifacts, services offered through these different mediums. Veil, Sellnow, and Petrun (201 2 ) argue that social media provides the conduit for sharing of the information from a simple push of a button. With the increased blurring of the question of whose interests are represented and whose are marginalized become increas ingly important and difficult to answer (Boyd & Waymer, 2011, p. 476). Rasmussen (2011) adds that this discourse is important in leveling the virtual playing field ensuring all participants start from an equal foundation implicatio creation , less) self organizing groups of individuals are gaining competitive advantages over power, ability, and discourse not only to make a statement, but to potentially make a difference.

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50 This power is heavily influenced by the language used through various types of communication : understandings of reality; as humans change the way they talk about things, their beliefs na, 2009, p. 107). For example, the way the g ay community started talking about themselves both through traditional media such as television, movies, and radio, and through social media platforms changed the way others outside and within the gay community thought about themselves. Swartz et al. (2009 are woven together in that communication works in productive ways to generate 118). The public also sees examples wi thin Hollywood movies, through ultra conservative church messages, and through other uses of social media. It is the latter, however, that has been able to increase general accessibility to the world, thus making it a smaller more inclusive community. A b y product of a growing virtual world is increased discourse, empowering people to question authority, engage within civic discourse, and, if needed, take action into their own hands by physically and metaphorically revolting to bring about make change Put ting the Dialogue in Discourse Ethics The idea of increased discourse can be explained through discourse ethics Introduced by Habermas in 1983, discourse ethics is his attempt to argue in favor of bringing more voices to the table, eventually coming to a decision that there needs to be a solution for the collective majority: For unless discourse ethics is undergirded by the thrust of motives and by socially accepted institutions, the moral insights it offers remain ineffective in

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51 practice. Insights, Hege l rightly demands, should be transformable into the concrete duties of everyday life. This much is true: any universalistic morality is dependent upon a form of life that meets it halfway There has to be a modicum of congruence between morality and the pr actices of socialization and education. (Habermas 1990, p. 207) Habermas argues that discourse brings justice and solidarity to the normative majority. His argument, however, is not a majority rules situation. The purpose is to present a wide variety of ideas from different sources and backgrounds to come to a collective agreement by attempting to establish ethical and normative truths through impartial judgment. Those collective agreements and those truths can be found through social media, such as Twitt er and Facebook. Being able to create an exchange of ideas lists for people for quick references, being able to follow or be followed by people all over the world, expandi ng the virtual reach exponentially and sharing photos at the click of a button have helped spread discourse faster than ever before. Social media like Twitter and Facebook allow people to continue to question the wrong in order to work toward what is ethical. For example, s ocial media was a ble to create and provide a static record of that activity, permitting later access and greater accessibility to those engaged in the revolutionary style activism and activity. This freedom of communication allow s people from around the world to connect in a way that o ften had been hindered in places that obstruct open communication allowing for international intervention and condemnation Discourse ethics, through the use of social media, has given likeminded individuals the opportunity to find one anot her and come to the figurative table to create a dialogue that would help them organize their message, giving the masses a reliable sense of open communication. Social media has

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52 allowed discourse among populations where sometimes being openly gay could hav e severe societal consequences. But how does this growing virtual community begin to redefine a geographic community? At what point does this growing virtual community overtake the geographic community in a way that negatively impacts discourse? Tech nology and Social Apps and the C reation of a N C As technology has evolved, so have the ways of connectivity. Because of this progression, we now live in an era where we are connected anywhere and everywhere, with ease. This ease of connectedne ss has systematically reduced the social requirement s for interpersonal relationship s to develop, allowing for more influence and validity within the virtual community structure that is largely unrestrained and uncoordinated (Meisenbach & Feldner, 2011, p. 565). In other words, there are less social restrictions within the virtual community, giving more people the opportunity to participate. This participation allowed the gay community to embrace its virtual community with open arms. For example, a February 2013 study found that two thirds of the 537 gay men surveyed use dating apps to find long term potential partners (Anonymous, 2013). That same study found that gay men are becoming more reliant on apps to connect to other single and sometimes not so singl e men for relationships. The survey concluded that more than half of respondents said they use dating apps in public, close to 80 percent said that apps help them to start a conversation that they would not have otherwise initiated in a public setting, and more than half said that dating apps are not friendly, when compared to dating websites (Anonymous, 2013). The study, though meant to show growing general support for social apps and within society as a whole, brings to light some of the challenges that t he virtual world possesses for the group of participants looking to make a

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53 meaningful interpersonal connection Meaningful interpersonal connections, as defined by Davies and Aron (2016), means having a greater degree of intimacy with in relationships that allows more serious and nuanced discussions about individual and group issues income equality, or gay marriage. As mentioned previously, there are a number of positives that come with this virtual world, in cluding having an equitable platform and voice for all groups. Brown, Maycock, and Burns (2005) argue that for marginalized groups, the Internet social has the capacity to remove barriers associated with geography, age, soc explain the appeal of the Internet to gay men is because until relatively recently, there were few places in which that population can meet without fear of negative social consequence While there are many positives that accompany this virtual community, there are plenty of neg ative aspects that need to be considered, such as increased ambiguity, decreased interpersonal relationships through increased physical isolation, and decreased face to face discourse. Ambiguity In general, the Internet is seen as an environment in which to interact and socialize, especially for the gay community. This virtual world has created a community of its own, but are participants in this community representing themselves in a way that is negatively impacts inter personal communication with those they interact with? Or are

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54 they knowingly engaging with others in an effort to remain ambiguous? Rose, et al. Twitter Facebook and MySpace users have an online platform that allows them to communicate widely, to self to be mor e pliable, allowing for a strategic way of presenting oneself to the virtual community. Though their argument is based on the gender differences within social media, there is a strong correlation to the use of social applications within the gay community. Research by Brown, Maycock, and Burn s (2005) shows that gay men view and engage with the Internet differently compared to how they view and engage with other more traditional gay spaces, such as community centers or bars. Brown, et al. (2005) examined the usage patterns of chat rooms and other social aspects of the Internet by gay men in Western Australia in regards to meeting sexual partners. The researchers came to the conclusion that men approach sex differently, influenced by the type of interaction, ei ther online or face to face, how that interaction progresses, and how certain assumptions and expectations are built and expounded. Certain characteristics are often exaggerated to over highlight positive attributes while masking potential faults. As menti oned before, the argument that online participants can be much more fluid and changeable with their self described identity, provided by Rose, et al. (2012) offers the user increased opportunities for strategic self presentation, which tends to create an alternate reality for both parties involved. Qualitative research by Blackwell, Birnholtz and Abbot (2015) uses research from Brown, et al. (2005) and supports the research from Rose, et al. (2012) by concluding that there was a certain level of ambiguity that users

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55 strive for when they interact on social media platforms such as Grindr. Blackwell, et al. (2015) argue that the participants in their study wanted to be perceived a certain way in order t o interact and communication with other Grinder users. In order for them to do so, however : P articipants were concerned about identifiability and the possibility of negative impressions by people who might view Grindr negatively. There was thus a tension b etween wishing to be perceived positively by other nearby attractive Grindr users they wanted to meet, and avoiding negative consequences or stigma from those outside this group ( Blackwell, et al., 2015, p. 1133 1134) This research reinforces my argument that the online gay community was created and maintained with a level of self developed ambiguity. By relying on virtual communication, a person can craft a physical and emotional persona that may not be entirely accurate, which can be problematic when an in person connection is requested. A byproduct of these additional connecting points inevitably develops within virtual communities, giving all people, including the gay community, an opportunity to create an encouraging and safer space. According to Brow n et al (2005) : The Internet has become a popular venue for gay men to exchange information, discuss political and other issues of interest, converse in chat rooms, and place and correspond to personal ads, or to partake in cybersex fantasies (erotic discussions and fantasies online without any face to face contact) in an anonymous fashion without fear of reprisal (p. 63) When relying on this form of communication as a singular or primary avenue, problems are very likely to develop. A study by Mahmoudi, Amini, and Hosseinzadeh (2014) found the virtual world to get rid of [avoid] their family problems, unemployment, high marriage age, economic problems, high educational costs, shortage of enough space for free time activities, unreasonable rules and standards of the

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56 little escapism, an over reliance on anonymity within the virtual world to shield one from external problems and factors could be problematic. As Mahmoudi, et al. argue, increased ambiguity also creates a slippery slope that encourages a disconnected self with reality. A growing sense of ambiguity has the potential to result in increased isolation. Isolation and Decreased Social Capital R egarding the effects of incr eased usage of the Internet and social apps, scholars found that the more people used the Internet the more their family and friend relationships suffered (Handel, 2001; Turkle, 2012). Other scholars have found that there is, in fact, an increase in inter personal relationships and meaningful connections between friends and family (Marwick & B oyd, 2014; Baym, 2010). At the center of this debate however, is whether or not Internet users end up feeling more isolated through decreased interpersonal relationsh ips or whether the Internet can lead to greater communication and connection between family and friends (Nie, 2001). Nie is a leading communication scholar whose research is lauded as one of the first comprehensive studies done on the Internet during a tim e when the majority of the county had access to the World Wide Web. Nie (2001) set the foundational argument that Internet users do not become more sociable because they have used the Internet but they display a higher degree of social connectivity and participation because they are better educated, better off, and less likely 2001, p. 429). More recent studies by Ellison, Steinfield, & Lempe (2007) Kim, LaRose, & Peng (2009) and Van Dijk (2012) confirm that trend. Nie goes on to argue that there is a steady decrease in social interaction with family and friends when you factor in the length of Internet use ( 2001, p. 429). The societal shift from geographic based communities to more of a virtual world has the potential to

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57 decre ase interpersonal relationships among friends and companions and heightening isolation, even if there are initial signs of increased inclusion and connection. Mahmoudi, Amini, and Hosseinzadeh (2014) found that the use of the Internet affected interaction and communication among the students they studied. Mahmoudi, et al. (2014) Internet g rate of Internet they did find that social interactions through a virtual medium can be beneficial, they argue that a balance must be found within the individual. If that balance does not happen, social isolation, the feeling of despair, and loneliness increase, which decreases interpersonal relationships. There are other subcomponents to the idea of increased isolation. Stern and Handel (2001) argue that the increased usage of tec hnology increases alienation and deindividuation within the geographic community. Stern and Handel as well as Postman (1992) and Zuboff (1988), argue Specifically, in regards to alienation, they technology and media evolves, it tends to encourage physical isolation. Accompanying alienation is deindividuation, a condition that Stern and Handel indicate people are in anonymity producing situations that reduce their concerns about being 2001, p. 287). Ul timately, however, social capital suffers from an increasingly reliant virtual community. Social capital, as defined by Lee and Lee (2010), is derived from relations

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58 with other people in a social structure, which allows social relationships amon g individuals and helps them create a competitive advantage to achieve their social goals (2010, p. 713). In order to create social capital, one must find commonality in conversation and that only occurs when information is shared with others. Lee and Lee (2010) argue that this take s place through interpersonal communication and through virtual communication such as chat rooms or message boards, which have the ability to enhance the communication ability of individuals due to technological advantages While some individuals do find comfort and support from an online community, supplementing a traditional geographic community to build social capital, others experience a decrease of social capital l eaving them feeling isolated, alienated, and deindividua lized. Lee and Lee (2010) conclude that an online community by itself does not ratify the role of the traditional or local community, and face to face communication between community members is still required in order to fully benefit from communities 010, p. 721). Decreased Interpersonal Discourse Along with ambiguity and isolation, interpersonal discourse suffers within this virtual world ( Raju, Valsaraj, & Noronha, 2014 ) For this thesis, general discourse encompasses various types of communication, including text, photos, videos, etc., that can be sent through the Internet and various social and networking apps. One problem is that communication can be limited depending on the medium chosen For example, textual conversations can vary in length, and the tone and emotion within those conversations tends to lose context ual value through these technologies. Even with these conversational limitations, social sites and social apps are encouraging gay men to engage in discourse in ways they may not in person, including interacting in a more

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59 overtly sexualized way. Stern and Handel (2001) argue that chat rooms give the user the choice to alter identities in any way they choose. T under the protective cover of the Internet people interact sexually in ways that were not previously possible A result can be the breakdown or misinterpretatio n of interpersonal discourse, as argued by Raju, Valsaraj, and Noronha (2014) and Blackwell, et al. (2015). Stern and Handel (2001) compared to face to increase in some of people (p. 287). Joinson (1998) argues that the Internet and now other forms of social apps, abundantly removes social cues and provides an environment that almost encourages an increase in inhibition. Clipson, Wilson, and DuFrene (2012) he wind when (p. 64). This freedom from self censorship can create ill will and hurt feelings, even if that was not the intention. People tend to lose self consciousness an d, in turn, are more likely to do things that they would not otherwise do, including sexual behaviors and other behaviors that may be detrimental to interpersonal relationships. Positive Aspects of Social Media and Technology Even though there was a focus on the negative aspects of the gay virtual world, there are also plenty of positive attributes. Mahmoudi, Amini, and Hosseinzadeh (2014) Internet and membership in social networks has gained a prominent place in the societies to the e xtent that it can affect the social processes and

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60 adding that, at times, the Internet can play a complementary role to other forms of These social interactions are why people use online communities. Lee and Lee (2010) between group members, for ex ample, strengthening social ties, circulating information, interactive functions enable people to actively go online and communicate with others, particularly at a high 712). Further research needs to be done regarding the speed in which people can connect and if it tends to drive the behavior of some toward instant gratification and reduced attention spans. In regards to gay men specifically, the Internet and mobile apps have given this marginalized group the opportunity to come together and be a voice of change. Members of the gay community can find greater self acceptance of their identities through the Internet chat rooms, and social applications. These mediums have also been able to reduce stigmas within the gay community. Stigmas such as HIV status tend to be easier to discuss in an online p latform. Without face to The Internet provides an opportunity for men to disclose their actual or believed HIV status without al., 2005, p. 68). Brow increased assumptions of trust and rapport) as well as protective factors (such as partner sorting on the basis of expectations, ground rules, and safe sex negotiations) can operate simultaneous

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61 virtual community tends to be shaped by the individual and what the individual is seeking. It should not be the sole source of community and connection. The online community shou ld work in tandem with the geographic community, helping advance certain ideas and narratives while also encouraging participants to make meaningful face to face connection s when possible Conclusion There is no argument that the Internet and social applic ations have influenced the way gay men perceive themselves and the world around them. The virtual world has given millions of gay men the opportunity to connect with others like them. What can be argued is how those same mediums have unpacked the traditional definition of a geographic community and created a coexisting virtual community. Throughout this chapter, I have shown the positive and the negative aspects of technology focusing on how the negative aspects influence certain behaviors tha t deconstruct interpersonal communication. This thesis is not an argument for or against a virtual gay community, rather to help redefine what the community has become. No longer are gay men bound to geographic places like bars, clubs, and theaters, there are now additional ways in which gay men of all ages, ethnicities, and experiences can engage with one another. By redefining what community is means analyzing the negative aspects of this evolving virtual world through increased ambiguity, decreased inter personal relationships through increased isolation, and decreased meaningful discourse. It also means acknowledging how the geographically based gay community formed and the power of social media through the lens of discourse ethics.

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62 Throughout this chapte r, I explain how communications theory the inclusion of technology and the use of social applications have impacted the gay community. Finally, I will conclude by rephrasing my argument and suggesting additional research to encourage parity among the other letters within the LQBTQ acronym.

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63 CHAPTER V CONCLUSION By taking a n interdisciplinary approach, I argue that while the Internet and social applications have improved inclusivity among gay men, those same communication tools have also transformed the traditional definition of a geographic community, creating a coexisting virtual community Within the gay community, the virt ual world, specifically gay related apps, is helping link people together who may not otherwise have been able to connect. This hybrid community however, is also challenging the interpersonal skills needed to sustain a working, progressive community. Curr ent scholarship shows that an over reliance on social networking apps can stifled the growth of community building by having negative impacts on interpersonal communications. As cited throughout scholars argue an overreliance on the virtual world can reve al isolated sub communities that fail to experience the community in its entirety. This, I have argued, is can lead to a deterioration of interpersonal communication skills within the community. Individual chapters focused on four specific areas of study h istory, sociology, political science, and communications offer ed the needed background and theories to support my argument. In Chapter T wo, I presented a background needed to understand my argument by recounting the history of the LGBTQ community starting with Mattachine Society in the 1950s all the way to present day polling and opinions around gay rights and gay marriage I also explained, by incorporat ing political science, how the claiming of public space and the theory of p lay influenced the way s the gay community developed within larger city settings while promoting gay friendly politics within and outside of the gay

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64 neighborhood. This chapter is in no way a detailed history of the LGBTQ community. The purpose of the chapter is to simply su pply a reader with basic knowledge about the creation of the gay community. In order to support the historical and political founda tion, I introduced the idea of identity theory and s ocial i dentity t heory in Chapter Three. Identity theory is defined as the role a person plays within a social construct or setting. Social identity theory encompasses various sub theories of identity that explain how gay men shaped who they were and what their community wanted to become. Because of the inherently strong connection between a common social identity within the gay community I evaluate d social identity theory and its components namely collective identity theory and self categorization theory which seemed like a natural fit. Collecti ve identity theory is the overall cognitive, moral, and emotional connection with a broader community ( Polletta & Jasper 2001) Self categorization theory explains why people make the conscious decision to place themselves into a particular group (Stryker 2000 ). All of these theories support my argument for what is needed to maintain the hybrid community. As the idea of virtual communities begin to form, it is important that we look at the role of technology with in our changing communications. Chapter F our covered the impact of t echnology and social applications on the gay community as a whole. This chapter takes a look at the good and bad aspects associated with social apps. The conclusion can be made that too much reliance on these apps can be problema tic to social discourse. I showed this through Discourse Ethics which explain s the positive and negative aspects of a growing virtual world and how that world intersects with the maint enance of a physical community. I also showed how meaningful interpersonal

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65 communication is important in maintaining a cohesive community. In order to define what healthy communication means for an individual, one must analyz e all aspects of the virtual world, including its negative s, such as increased ambiguity, de creased interpersonal relationships through increased isolation, and decreas ed meaningful discourse. Further Research Throughout the entirety of this thesis, there are obvious gap s in research, one of which I acknowledged in my introduction and intentional ly left unanswered. When researchers talk about the LGBTQ community, they often mean gay men. That, in itself, is a big gap of missing research. Searching for the words , garnered 537,000 results, 286,000 results, 133,000 results, and 532,000 results, respectively. Though this is in no way meant to represent a case study of LGBTQ research, it simply shows the disproportionate research out there. By s imply relyi ng on gay men to represent the greater needs of the LGBTQ community researchers have been doing a disservice to the various other groups represented within the acronym That is not to say scholars are currently overlooking these other groups. As you can s ee by the numbers above, there is research available focusing on the various other groups within the LGBTQ acronym. What I challenge future researchers and scholars to do is to step outside of the standard group and study the lesbian community, bisexual me n and women, the transgender community, and those who more closely align to being queer. Give them more of a voice to tell their story, to be heard by the research community. Yes, this is a tall order, but it is necessary to shed light on the various other groups that make up the whole community.

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