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Article

Queer Intercultural Communication  

Gust A. Yep, Ryan M. Lescure, and Sage E. Russo

Queer intercultural communication is an emerging and vibrant area of the communication discipline. The examination of this developing area of inquiry, the preliminary mapping of the field of queer intercultural communication, and its potential guidelines for future research deserve our attention. To do so, there are three sections for examination. First is an integrative view of queer intercultural communication by identifying fundamental components of its major contexts—macro, meso, and micro—and a model for understanding this research. Second is the exploration and examination of these major contexts in terms of theoretical, methodological, and political issues and concerns. Last are potential guidelines for research in queer intercultural communication.

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Queer Intercultural Communication: Sexuality and Intercultural Communication  

Taisha McMickens, Miranda Dottie Olzman, and Bernadette Marie Calafell

Queer intercultural communication is the study of sexuality in intercultural communication. It is a critical, interdisciplinary field that explores identity (i.e., race, gender, sexuality, nationality, and class) across political, historical, transnational, and social spheres. Queer intercultural communication is grounded in using an intersectional lens and embodiment, and in understanding the way power functions both systemically and individually. Historically, intercultural communication has lagged in including intersectional works that center on queer and transgender voices, theorizings, and methodologies. Queer intercultural communication has worked to expand the voices that are being centered as a way to theorize about potential and hope. As this work continues, scholarship on sexualities must remain open to broadening discourse, theory, and methodologies that are inclusive of multiple stories that evoke queer possibilities.

Article

Queer Melodrama  

Cora Butcher-Spellman

Queer melodrama utilizes and reimagines the conventions of melodrama to tell stories by, for, and/or about queer people. Melodrama has been studied by scholars of communication, especially scholars of media and rhetoric. Itis also a transdisciplinary area of study with scholars in film, literature, media studies, cultural studies, and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies as well as disciplines associated with specific languages, cultures, geographies, and identities. The scholarship of queer melodrama coalesces around two primary areas of inquiry and research. First, queer melodrama scholarship engages substantially with the taxonomization and theorization of the genre. As a storytelling genre, melodrama appears in various types of media and rhetoric including film, television, literature, theater, and music. Scholars conceptualize the genre of queer melodrama in three main ways: generically in terms of characteristics, formulaically in terms of plot, and stylistically in terms of affect and aesthetic. Most definitions of melodrama focus on the portrayal of extreme emotions paired with a tragic climax—one ultimately resolved with a sudden, simple happy ending. Second, queer melodrama scholarship regularly grapples with the purposes, impacts, and weaknesses of the genre. Queer melodrama’s central purposes are storytelling, disruption, and critique. The genre has the potential to impact audiences by facilitating or encouraging emotional responses, awareness, empathy, hope, and imagination. While much queer melodrama scholarship focuses on defending the genre against dismissive, sexist criticism, scholars also critically examine the potentially negative and harmful political work of certain aspects or examples of queer melodrama. These scholarly critiques have established various problems with queer melodrama including exclusion, normativity, and assimilationism. Taken together, these areas of inquiry attest to the richness of queer melodrama for scholarly inquiry, audience consumption, and political work. Queer melodramas are vital sources for queer communication and rhetoric scholarship about media, affect, aesthetics, and genre.

Article

Queer Memory  

Thomas R. Dunn

Although “memory” has long held a place of distinction within the discipline of Communication, queer memory and its capacity to make powerful interventions into politics, culture, and society represent a significant new enactment of the term. As an area of study, queer memory in Communication draws heavily from the confluence of memory studies and queer theory, both of which arrived at the end of the 20th century. It was also accelerated by the exigency that is HIV/AIDS. While the early aughts saw the inauguration of queer memory studies in Communication, today the topic is a regular focus of queer scholars. In particular, scholars have gravitated to the recovery and circulation of the memories of queer individuals, movements, and institutions; the queering of the study and practice of memory itself; and the reconsideration of the archive through a queer lens.

Article

Queer Memory and Film  

Anamarija Horvat

The relationship between queer memory and cinema is a complex one. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) histories have often been and continue to be systematically and deliberately excluded from the “official” memory narratives of nation-states, whether it be within the context of education or other commemorative projects. In order to counter this erasure, activists and artists have worked to preserve and reimagine LGBTQ pasts, creating archives, undertaking historiographic work, and, finally, reimagining queer histories in film and television. While memory remains an underutilized concept in queer studies, authors working in this nascent area of the field have nonetheless examined how the queer past is being commemorated through national, educational, and cinematic technologies of memory. For example, Scott McKinnon’s work has focused on gay male memories of cinema-going, therein highlighting the role of audience studies for the understanding of gay memory. Like McKinnon, Christopher Castiglia and Christopher Reed have also focused on the gay male community, emphasizing the ways in which film and television can combat the effects of conservative and homonormative politics on how the past is remembered. While Castiglia, Reed, and McKinnon’s work focuses on the memories of gay men, a monograph by the author of this article has analyzed how contemporary film and television represent LGBTQ histories, therein interrogating the role these mediums play in the creation of what can be termed specifically queer memory. Furthermore, while monographs dealing with queer memory are only beginning to appear, a number of single case studies and book chapters have focused on specific cinematic works, and have looked at how they present the LGBTQ past, particularly with respect to activist histories. Authors like Dagmar Brunow have also emphasized the link between queer memory and film preservation, exhibition and distribution, therein pointing toward the ways in which practices of curation shape one’s perception of the past. Taken together, these different approaches to queer filmic memory not only illuminate the relevance of cinema to the ways in which LGBTQ people recall and imagine the past of their own community, but also to the unfixed and continually evolving nature of queer memory itself.

Article

Queer Men’s Bodies and Digital Media  

Jamie Hakim

The politics of queer men’s bodies as they relate to digital media are fraught with ambivalence. A very narrowly defined body type is considered the ideal form of beauty in queer men’s cultures in the Global North: white, masculine, able-bodied, lean, muscular, youthful, and hairless. Other body types are also considered beautiful or desirable or both, but this ideal is the norm against which these other types are defined. The politics of this ideal change across contexts. In some, they render anyone who deviates from it less-than-human. In others, the ability to safely express the desire for this body has provided the basis for networks of belonging, pleasure, and experimentation in an otherwise homophobic and transphobic world. The various developments that digital media have undergone since the penetration of the internet into everyday life have not fundamentally altered the ambivalence of these politics. They have, however, rearticulated them anew in various ways. The exponential proliferation of networked spaces that the internet has provided for minorities to share information and to produce and consume culture has meant a number of different queer male beauty ideals have been given room to flourish. But so too have their related constraints and ambivalences. These ambivalences have intensified as the internet, once defined by amateurish user-generated content, has been captured by the interests of global capitalism. One result has been that its increasingly visual culture has become as normative and aspirational as possible in a bid to increase its profitability. However, room for critical or deconstructive body projects still persists. The hegemonic struggle over queer men’s body politics may have started long ago, but it continues, and digital media is now the terrain where much of it occurs.

Article

Queer Migration and Digital Media  

Andrew DJ Shield

Migration—whether international or internal, forced or voluntary—intertwines with digital media, especially for sexual minorities and trans people who seek out platforms catering to lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (LGBTQ) people. Online networks foster transnational flows of ideas and information, which can enable international travel. The ways that queer people interact on digital media in the 21st century have emerged not only from decades of online subcultures—such as 1990s chatrooms and profile sites—but also from predigital media cultures, such as printed personal ads in gay and lesbian journals. The internet accelerated the growth of media platforms and queer international networks, both of which continued to develop with the advent of mobile phone apps and the proliferation of social media. Online media—from blogs to hashtags to “hook-up” apps—can relate to all aspects of the migration process. Before, during, and after a move, queer migrants access online media for information about LGBTQ laws and norms or for help with the logistics of migration. When in a new country, queer migrants use online media to try to connect with locals. During these interactions, migrants might encounter forms of xenophobia, racism, and exclusion. In spite or because of these experiences, queer migrants utilize digital media to build new networks, such as queer diasporic communities aimed at social or political activities.

Article

Queer Music Practices in the Digital Realm  

Ben De Smet

The relevance of music in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and other sexually nonnormative (LGBTQ+) lives and identities has been extensively established and researched. Studies have focused on queer performances, fandom, night life, and other aspects of music to examine the intimate, social, and political relations between music and LGBTQ+ identities. In a time where music culture is produced, distributed, and consumed increasingly in digital spaces, relations between music and LGBTQ+ identities are meaningfully informed by these spaces. As this is a relatively recent development and offline music practices remain profoundly meaningful and relevant, the amount of research on queer digital music practices remains modest. However, a rich body of literature in the fields of popular music studies, queer studies, and new media studies provides an array of inspiring angles and perspectives to shed light on these matters, and this literature can be situated and critically linked. For over half a century, popular music studies have directed their attention to the relations between the social and the musical. Under the impulse of feminist studies, gender identities soon became a prominent focus within popular music studies, and, driven by LGBTQ+ studies, (non-normative) sexual identities soon followed. As popular music studies developed a rich theoretical basis, and feminist and queer studies evolved over the years into more intersectional and queer directions, popular music studies focusing on gender and/or sexuality gradually stepped away from their initial somewhat rigid, binary perspectives in favor of more open, dynamic, and queer perspectives. Following a similar path, early new media studies struggled to avoid simplistic, naïve, or gloomy deterministic analyses of the Internet and new media. As the field evolved, alongside the technologies that form its focus, a more nuanced, mutual, and agency-based approach emerged. Here, too, scholars have introduced queer perspectives and have applied them to research a range of LGBTQ+-related digital phenomena. Today, popular music, sexual identities, and new media have become meaningful aspects of social life, and much more remains to be explored, in particular on the intersection of these fields. A diverse array of queer fan practices, music video practices, and music streaming practices are waiting to be examined. The theory and the tools are there.

Article

Queer People’s Communication With Families of Origin  

Cimmiaron Alvarez and Kristina M. Scharp

Communicating with one’s family of origin requires considerable effort for queer people (e.g., LGBTQ+; queer is used as an encompassing term to include all gender and sexual identities that are not both cis and heterosexual). Queer people must decide if they want to disclose their gender and/or sexual identities, to whom they want to disclose, how they want to communicate, and anticipate the ways their family members may react. Immediate family members, such as parents and siblings, typically play an important role in queer people’s lives and are consequently some of the first people to whom queer people talk about their gender and/or sexual identities. Yet not all these disclosures are met with positive reactions from family members. Research suggests that queer people perceive their families’ reactions range from complete acceptance to total rejection. Thus, it is often the case that queer people must cope with multiple sources of stigma. From the family members’ perspective, parents and siblings also report having varied reactions to the queer person’s initial disclosure that require them to engage in sense-making. Thus, in addition to the communicative burden of queer people, their families may also have to share in the communicative work to communicate with people outside the family or (re)construct their family identity. All this communicative labor simultaneously reflects and constructs larger overarching ideologies surrounding gender and sexuality.

Article

Queer Production Studies  

Eve Ng

Queer production studies is a subfield of production studies that specifically considers the significance of queer identity for media producers, particularly as it relates to the creation of LGBTQ content. Its emergence as a named subfield did not occur until 2018, but there have been studies of queer production prior to that. While general production studies scholarship has focused on industrial production, the scope of queer production studies includes not just production spanning commercial, public, and independent domains, but also fan production. Queer production studies often make use of interview and ethnographic methods to investigate how nonnormative gender and sexual expression factor in the work of media producers, and also examines relevant industry documents, media texts, and media paratexts to discuss how LGBTQ media content reinforces or challenges existing norms. It considers how queer media production relates to the degree of integration or marginalization of LGBTQ people and representation within media as well as society more broadly. Currently, almost all research explicitly identified as queer production studies is conducted in U.S.-based or European-based contexts, and there is thus a large gap in scholarship of queer media production occurring elsewhere. Research on queer production in the commercial domain has addressed how LGBTQ workers have shaped the content and marketing of queer media, and the relationship of commercial LGBTQ media to independent queer media and to LGBTQ activism. In commercial print, television, and digital media in the United States, there has been some integration of LGBTQ workers beginning in the 1990s, with mixed results for content diversity and for the injection of resources into independent production, as well as a complex relationship to advancing LGBTQ causes. In national contexts with prominent state-supported media, such as the United Kingdom and various European countries, the presence of LGBTQ workers at public service broadcasters interacts with mandates for diversity and inclusion. This has had mixed outcomes in terms of both work environments and the kinds of media texts produced. In independent queer production, issues of limited resources and viewership are persistent, but the professional trajectories of queer cultural workers show that they may move back and forth between major commercial and low-budget production. Digital media has been transformative for many independent producers, facilitating the creation of more diverse content, although web series still face issues of securing resources and dealing with competition from commercial media. Queer fan production has often occurred in response to deficiencies of representation in canonical (official) media texts, taking the form of narrative works such as music videos as well as paratextual commentary. While queer fan texts typically challenge the heteronormativity of mainstream media, many do not depart significantly from other norms around gender and sex. Some fan-written queer-themed fiction has been adapted into commercial television series in countries such as China, although state censorship has precluded the series from being explicitly queer.

Article

Queer Safer Sex Communication  

Kami Kosenko

Although communication scholars have been exploring the role of partner communication in sexual health promotion since the 1960s, the term safer sex, and its corollary safer sex communication, emerged in the late 1980s in the wake of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which was and still is disproportionately affecting queer individuals. Numerous studies, along with some meta-analyses, point to the protective potential of safer sex discussions, defined here as the communicative management of health concerns with sex partners. Despite scholarly agreement regarding its importance, the term safer sex communication has received little explication, and much of what is known about it comes from studies with predominantly heterosexual samples. A review of the literature on queer safer sex communication points to some key issues related to age, race, trauma history, place, and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and suggests important considerations for future research efforts.

Article

Queer Safe Spaces and Communication  

Lital Pascar, Yossi David, Gilly Hartal, and Brandon William Epstein

Historically, organizations and individuals have (un)consciously produced safe spaces out of various backgrounds and in myriad ways. Specifically, queer safe spaces represent a significant construct within queer discourses and practices that articulate the need for physical, psychological, rhetoric, virtual, and imagined safety. In this context, safety means being protected from heteronormative and patriarchal violence that shapes the everyday lives and subjectivities of queer and LGBT+ individuals in public and private spaces. Whether these are offline, online, physical, or educational settings, queer safe spaces are defined as relational and deliberative spaces in which unsafety cannot be completely undone. Queer safe spaces then provide refuge for activism, social and personal transformation, facilitation thereof for productive spaces of dialogue, and identity construction. Even though the term “queer safe space” is commonly used, it remains undertheorized and no comprehensive understanding of queer safe spaces, their social role, or the practices involved in producing them exists. This article therefore defines queer safe spaces by encompassing the use of a critical perspective to foreground their qualities and fallacies as well as their inherent dilemmas and contradictions.

Article

Queer Sexualities in Latin America  

Héctor Domínguez Ruvalcaba

As a field of study constituted by contributions coming from various disciplines and methodologies, queer studies in Latin America can only be understood as a multiplicity of discourses that discipline, regulate, vindicate, or bring into critical view dissident expressions of gender and sexuality. These discursive formations have given rise to moral, scientific, political, and aesthetic conceptualizations through which sexually diverse bodies in this region have been understood. Notable academic texts published since the 1980s have studied the diversity of sexual identities in different modes of representation, including the fields of history, ethnography, and literature, as well as performance, journalistic, cinematographic, and television discourses. The selection for this multidisciplinary review was based on the following thematic axis: colonial studies of Latin American queerness; modern history and literature on sexual dissidence; ethnographies of sexual diversity; and the studies of film, media, and performance.

Article

Queer Studies and Organizational Communication  

Jamie McDonald and Sean C. Kenney

As a subfield, organizational communication has been relatively slow to engage with queer theory. However, a robust literature on queer organizational scholarship has emerged over the past decade, since the 2010s, in both organizational communication and the allied field of critical management studies. Adopting a queer theoretical lens to the study of organizational communication entails queering one’s understandings of organizational life by questioning what is considered to be normal and taken for granted. Engaging with queer theory in organizational communication also implies exposing and critiquing heteronormativity in organizations, viewing difference as a constitutive feature of organizing, adopting an anti-categorical approach to difference, and understanding identity as fluid and performative. To date, organizational scholars have mobilized queer theory to queer how gender and sexuality are conceptualized in organizational research, queer dominant understandings of leadership, queer the notion of diversity management, queer the “closet” metaphor and understandings of how individuals negotiate the disclosure of nonnormative identities at work, and queer organizational research methods. Moving forward, organizational scholars can continue to advance queer scholarship by mobilizing queer theory to highlight queer voices in empirical research, interrogating whiteness in queer organizational scholarship by centering queer of color subjectivities, and continuing to queer organizational research and queer theory by subjecting both to critical interrogation.

Article

Queer Studies in Critical and Cultural Communication  

Isaac N. West

Queer studies in critical and cultural communication studies concerns itself with interrogating the symbolic and material manifestations of desires, sexualities, genders, and bodies in all manners of our lives, including public policy, everyday talk, protests and direct political actions, and media representations. Although the genealogy of this subfield often rehearses queer studies’ emergence as a point of radical rupture from previous theories and perspectives, another mapping of queer studies is possible if it is understood as an evolution of core questions at the heart of communication studies. Queer studies’ mode of inquiry generally involves a double gesture of identifying implicit and/or explicit biases of a communicative norm and promoting alternative ways of being in the world that do not comport with those norms. Indebted to and conversant with critical race, feminist, and lesbian gay, bisexual, and transgender studies, queer studies in critical and cultural communication studies occupies and contests the terrain of its own possibility in its attention to the intended and unintended consequences of privileging one set of cultural arrangements over another. Without any pure vantage point from which one may start or end a cultural analysis, communication scholars have embraced the contingencies afforded by queer studies to imagine otherwise the cultural legitimacy afforded to some bodies and not others; the necessity of sanctioning some sexual desires and not others; the intersectional affordances of sexuality, race, gender, ability, and class; more and less effective modes of dissent from the various normativities governing our behaviors and beliefs; and the necessity of memory politics and their pedagogical implications.

Article

Queer Temporalities  

Dustin Goltz

The political and ideological workings of temporality—how our engagement and understanding of time is culturally constructed and assigned meaning—has garnered much attention by queer theorists inside and beyond the field of communication. Specifically, queer temporality, as an interventionist project, interrogates the assumed naturalness of straight temporality, its governing logics, and its foreclosures. Stemming from the work of queer theorists such as Lee Edelman, Jack Halberstam, Jose Esteban Muñoz, and Elizabeth Freeman, queer temporality calls for reconsideration of how marriage, children, generativity, and inheritance define and confine cultural expectations of maturation, responsibility, happiness, and future. Additionally, queer temporality seeks to question how time is approached and performed, examining the political elements of these understandings. In short, queer temporality pushes against heteronormativity’s framing and disciplining of time, charting more queer ways to think about history, pace, relationships, notions of success, and the linear segmentation of past/present/future.

Article

Queer Worldmaking  

Hailey N. Otis and Thomas R. Dunn

The theory and practice of queer worldmaking is a vital part of the study of queer communication. Rooted in the acts, activism, artistry, and the everyday lives of LGBT+, queer, and proto-queer people across the world, the theorization of queer worldmaking emerged alongside the founding of queer theory itself in the late 1990s. Surfacing in both José Esteban Muñoz’s writing on minoritarian performance and disidentification as well as Lauren Berlant and Michael Warner’s essay, “Sex in Public,” the term “queer worldmaking” was quickly taken up in communication scholarship, driving Gust Yep’s foundational work on “The Violence of Heteronormativity in Communication Studies.” Evolving according to various disciplinary demands and cultural influences, contemporary endeavors in queer worldmaking in communication studies largely follow three general paths: (a) drawing upon quare/queer of color theories to theorize worldmaking through/as enactments of disidentification(s), queer futurity, queer utopias, hope, and queer relationality; (b) conceptualizing academia, scholarship, and academic pursuits as productive sites for envisioning and creating queer worlds; and (c) tending to the worldmaking potentialities of queer memories, monuments, and archives. These intellectual pathways overlap, interweave, and split off into unpredictable rhizomatic directions, paving the way for scholarship that converses with, diverges from, and pushes forward queer worldmaking in communication studies in curiously queer directions.

Article

Race and Ethnic Stereotypes in the Media  

Srividya Ramasubramanian, Emily Riewestahl, and Anthony Ramirez

There is a long history of scholarship documenting the prevalence of racial and ethnic stereotypes in media and popular culture. This body of literature demonstrates that media stereotypes have changed over time across specific racial/ethnic groups, media formats, and genres. Historically, the bulk of this research has focused on representations in the U.S. mainstream media and on representations of African Americans in popular media. In the last few decades, media scholars have also examined media stereotypes associated with Indigenous groups, Latino/a/x populations, Arabs, Asians, and Pacific Islanders. Recent work has gone beyond traditional media such as television and films to also examine other types of media content such as video games, microblogging sites such as Twitter, and media sharing sites such as YouTube. Emerging research addresses racial biases in AI, algorithms, and media technologies through computational methods and data sciences. Despite individual variations across groups and media types, the underlying social psychological mechanisms of how, why, and under what circumstances these stereotypes influence audiences has been theorized more broadly. Cultivation, social identity theory, priming, framing, social cognitive theory, and exemplification are popular theoretical perspectives used within media stereotyping literature. Several experimental studies have examined the effects of mediated racial/ethnic stereotypes on individual users’ attitudes, beliefs, feelings, and behaviors. The lion’s share of these studies has demonstrated that negative stereotypes shape majority audiences’ real-world stereotypical perceptions, social judgments, intergroup emotions, and even public policy opinions. More important, media stereotypes can have negative effects on communities of color by affecting their self-concept, self-esteem, and collective identity in adverse ways. Recent studies have also parsed out the differences between positive and negative stereotypes. They demonstrate that even so-called positive stereotypes often have harmful effects on marginalized groups. Media scholars are increasingly interested in practical solutions to address media stereotypes. For instance, one content-based strategy has been to study the effects of counter-stereotypic portrayals that challenge stereotypes by presenting stereotype-disconfirming information. Other related measures are encouraging positive role models, implementing media literacy education, and supporting alternative media spaces that are more racially inclusive. The recent scholarship suggests that it is important to be intentional about centering social change, amplifying the voices of marginalized groups, and working toward reducing systemic racism in the media industry and research.

Article

Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Communication in Africa: An Intersectional Perspective  

Kristin Skare Orgeret

When examining diversity in mediated spheres of communication, crucial questions to be asked would be whose stories are told and through which voices, to be relevant for the widest spectrum of a society and secure an informed citizenry. Approaching questions of access and representation in media and communication, it is valuable to allow for intersecting perspectives. Instead of the binary terms associated with power relations and oppression the intersectional model references the ability of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexual orientation (oppressions) to mutually construct one another and ensures a broader scope of relevant representations and mediated stories. Hence it is necessary to combine knowledge from several sources, such as the Négritude movement, feminism, and queer theories. An intersectional approach proves relevant when discussing African contexts where specific historical, cultural, and economic/political contexts play together and the populations are often complex and manifold, as, for example, the Rhodes Must Fall campaign and the media coverage of athlete Caster Semenya show.

Article

Relational Communication and Consensual Nonmonogamy  

Valerie Rubinsky and Lucy C. Niess

Consensually nonmonogamous (CNM) relationships include a variety of relational types that allow for multiple sexual or romantic partners. Although many CNM dynamics occur, the most commonly addressed by both research and popular media include swinging relationships, open relationships, and polyamorous relationships. Many people practice some form of CNM at some point in time, with some estimates suggesting approximately one in five people will be involved in some kind of CNM relational dynamic at some point in their lifetime. At the core of their relational practices, many CNM relationships center communication, openness, and honesty. Despite this, CNM relationships have received less attention from communication researchers comparative to other social science disciplines. CNM relational practices are independent of other relational identities, but may intersect with other identities such as sexual orientation or those who practice kink or bondage, domination, and sadomasochism. The interdisciplinary research literature on relational communication and CNM examines relational maintenance behaviors in CNM relationships, primarily polyamorous relationships, relational communication and jealousy in multiple partner dynamics, polyamorous identity disclosure, and intercultural communication in polyamorous communities. CNM relational communication practices emphasize relational maintenance behavior in multiple-partner dynamics and how jealousy may be communicatively managed in CNM relationships.