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“I want my story to be heard…”: Examining the Production of Digital Stories by Queer Youth in East and South-East Asia

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The Geographies of Digital Sexuality

Abstract

Online video-sharing platforms, such as YouTube, afford queer young people new opportunities to document, discuss and explore sexuality and gender identity. However, there remains limited work undertaken on how these digital stories are produced for sites such as YouTube—“networked publics” (boyd, Networked self: Identity, community, and culture on social network sites, Routledge, 2011)—and who the imagined audience/s these digital stories are constructed for. In this chapter, I draw on Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus, field and symbolic power to examine how nine LGBT filmmakers and storytellers in East and South-East Asia construct digital stories for YouTube. The findings show how the networked platform is perceived to afford new possibilities for presenting intimate stories of LGBT life to diverse multi-layered imagined audiences, across local, national and transnational space/s. The stories are produced to provide support for those with diverse sexualities and genders, as well as (re)shape representations of sexuality and gender identity locally and transnationally. The films seek to disrupt the symbolic meaning of sexuality, and are created to shift the habitus of the imagined viewers. In doing so this extends the filmmakers’ and storytellers’ existing activist practices and queer interventions within the world. YouTube, as a networked public, is thus an important structuring medium for collective queer world-making, which gets used for its perceived capacity to present legitimate and alternative visions of sexuality and gender diversity to multi-layered transnational audiences.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    This included a video (1:05 minutes long and included both a male and a female voiceover that read different coloured English text on the video), and an accompanying website in English.

  2. 2.

    This sought stories from Bangkok, Beijing, Hanoi, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Phnom Penh and Singapore.

  3. 3.

    The terms queer, LGBT and LGBTIQ+ are used interchangeably in this chapter. They are used as inclusive terms for individuals who identify with a same-sex identity and/or desire and also include those who identify with or may be questioning a gender identity other than their assigned sex and/or assigned gender. These terms also include those who may have same-sex attractions and/or are gender-questioning but do not identify with a specific same-sex identity and/or gender identity.

  4. 4.

    The one other individual had experience working on films for an NGO and prior experience creating and uploading videos to YouTube.

  5. 5.

    Whilst YouTube remains banned in China, a similar trend towards video-sharing platforms in China (e.g. Youku) is also evident.

  6. 6.

    The vignette is anonymised and de-identified. All other interviewees’ quotes have also been anonymised and de-identified to protect their identities.

  7. 7.

    A point I have made about the affordances of online spaces for queer youth elsewhere (Hanckel & Morris, 2014).

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Hanckel, B. (2019). “I want my story to be heard…”: Examining the Production of Digital Stories by Queer Youth in East and South-East Asia. In: Nash, C.J., Gorman-Murray, A. (eds) The Geographies of Digital Sexuality. Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-13-6876-9_11

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-13-6876-9_11

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