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Article

Brandon T. Parrillo and Randal D. Brown

Effective communication is vital to any relationship, and sexual communication is no different. Given its importance, sexual communication and its relation to a variety of topics has been studied in recent years. Included among these are its relation to safer sex behaviors, sexual and relationship satisfaction, and fertility and family planning among heterosexual partners. Yet, for queer partners, the data reflect interest in sexual communication as it relates to safe sex behaviors such as condom use and HIV status. Further, the current base of published literature on sexual communication among queer partners focuses almost exclusively on men who have sex with men and leaves out other types of queer partnerships. To be truly inclusive, it is imperative that sexual communication research broaden its focus to include topics that do not medicalize queer couples, such as sexual pleasure, satisfaction, and relationship well-being.

Article

Queer TV studies have until now focused predominantly on U.S. TV culture, and research into representations of sexual and gender diversity in Western European, Asian, and Latin American programming has only recently found traction. Due to this U.S. focus, queer television in Western Europe has yet to be comprehensively documented in scholarly sources, and Western European queer television studies hardly constitute an emancipated practice. Given that U.S.-focused queer theories of television remain the primary frame of reference to study LGBT+ televisibility in Western Europe, but its domestic small screens comprise a decidedly different institutional context, it is at this time necessary to synthetically assess how the U.S. television industry has given way to specific logics in queer scholarship and whether these logics suit conditions found in domestic television cultures. Queer analyses of U.S. TV programming rightly recognize the presence and form of non-heterosexual and non-cisgender characters and stories as a function of commerce; that is to say, television production in the United States must primarily be profitable, and whether or how the LGBT+ community is represented by popular entertainment is determined by economic factors. The recognition hereof pits queer scholars against the television industry, and the antagonistic approach it invites dissuades them from articulating how TV could do better for LGBT+ people rather than only critiquing what TV currently does wrong. While it is crucial to be attentive toward the power relations reflected and naturalized by television representations, it is also important to recognize that the discretion of prescriptive, normative interventions by queer TV scholars relates to conditions of U.S. television production. The dominance of public service broadcasters (PSBs) and their historical role in spearheading LGBT+ televisibility highlights the distinctive conditions queer TV scholarship is situated in in Western Europe and troubles established modes of engaging the medium. Where the modest scale of national industries already facilitates more direct interaction between academics and TV professionals, PSBs are held to democratic responsibilities on diverse representation and have a history of involving scholars to address and substantiate their pluralistic mission. Consequently, Western European television cultures offer a space to conceive of an agonistic mode of queer TV scholarship, premised not only on contesting what is wrong but also on proposing what would be right. Hence, future engagements with domestic LGBT+ televisibility must look beyond established analytics and explore the value of articulating openly normative propositions about desirable ways of representing sexual and gender diversity.

Article

Both inside and outside of the Communication Studies discipline, the place of sexuality scholarship is unsettled—and that shaky ground materializes especially around the discussion of sexual pleasure in the field and beyond. Candid discussions of sex, pleasure, desire, sexual tastes, fantasies, and bodily responses have long inspired heavy-breathing anxiety inflected by a reach for “propriety.” This anxiety envelopes public discourses of what feels good—especially things that feel really good under less-than-great conditions and things that deviate from what normative structures say should feel good. There are three areas in which pleasure emerges in the field of queer communication studies: analyses of representational pleasure, resistance to normative public discourses, and embodied autoethnographies of pleasure, which trace moments of queer sexual pleasure articulation in communication research despite disciplinary attempts to elide this field of study.

Article

Queer healthcare communication spans different literature and topic areas. The medicalization of queer bodies has historically and continues to influence how queer individuals interact and communicate within healthcare settings. Further, heterosexism is rampant within medical institutions that perpetuate the idea that all patients are heterosexual. Because of the influence of heterosexism, medical schools are designed to ignore queer bodies. If queer bodies are acknowledged, they are positioned as something exotic and not presented as a typical patient. Heterosexism is further communicated in patient and provider interactions by providers assuming their patients’ heterosexual identity and assuming all queer patients are promiscuous. In turn, queer patients may make decisions about their healthcare based on providers’ heterosexist attitudes. Providers who practice medicine have also demonstrated their limited knowledge about queer patients and how to care for them. The literature on discrimination of queer patients focuses more on how providers have used both verbal and non-verbal forms of communication. In looking at queer discrimination, queer invisibility demonstrates more covert functions of healthcare communication. Due to the invisibility of queer patients, disclosure becomes a site of interest for researchers. While some queer patients try to seek out queer-friendly providers, researchers have given recommendations on how healthcare providers can improve their queer competency. Finally, some notable topics within queer healthcare communication include queer pregnancy, HIV, and why transgender identity should be a separate topic as transgender people have their own healthcare needs.

Article

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

The discourse of coming out has historically served as an effective vehicle to build and sustain the LGBTQ movement in the United States. It has also been utilized as an empowering resource that enables queer people to establish a queer identity organized around self-awareness and self-expression. However, queer of color critique and transnational queer theory argue that the prevalent discourse of coming out is built on a particular kind of queer experience and geography, which is usually from the standpoint of White, middle-class men of urban U.S. citizenship and is rarely derived from the experience of queer people of color and non-Western queer subjects. Taking an intersectional perspective, Snorton interrogates the racialization of the closet and proposes a sexual politics of ignorance—opposed to the disclosure imperative in coming out discourse—as a tactic of ungovernability. Centering the experience of Russian American immigrants who are queer-identified, Fisher proposes a fluid and productive relationship between the “closeted” and the “out” sexuality that resists any fixed categorization. Focusing on the masking tactic deployed by local queer activists, Martin theorizes the model of xianshen, a local identity politics in Taiwan that questions the very conditions of visibility in dominant coming out discourse. As a decolonial response to the transnational circulation of coming out discourse, Chou delineates a “coming home” approach that emphasizes familial piety and harmony by reining in and concealing queer desires. Being cautious against the nationalist impulse in Chou’s works, Huang and Brouwer propose a “coming with” model to capture the struggles among Chinese queers to disidentify with the family institution. These alternative paradigms serve as epistemic tools that aim to revise understanding of queer resistance and queer relationality and help people to go beyond the imagination of coming out for a livable queer future.

Article

João Nemi Neto

Brazilian cinema is born out of a desire for modernity. Moving images (movies) represented the newest technological innovation. Cinematographers brought to the growing cities of Brazil an idea—and ideal—of “civilization” and contemporaneousness. At the same time, queer identities started to gain visibility. Therefore, a possible historiography of cinema is also a potential for a historiography of queer identities. Nonetheless, as a non-Anglo country and former colony of Portugal, Brazil presents its own vicissitudes both in the history of cinema and in queer historiography. To understand dissident identities in a peripherical culture (in relation to Europe), one must comprehend the ways ideas and concepts travel. Therefore, queer and intersectionality function as traveling theories (in Edward Said’s terms) for the understanding of a Brazilian queer cinema. A critical perspective of the term “queer” and its repercussions in other cultures where English is not the first language is imperative for one to understand groundbreaking filmmakers who have depicted queer realities and identities on the Brazilian big screen throughout the 20th century and the first decades of the 21st century.

Article

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

Natalie Fixmer-Oraiz and Shui-yin Sharon Yam

The history, principles, and contributions of the reproductive justice (RJ) framework to queer family formation is the nexus that connects the coalitional potential between RJ and queer justice. How the three pillars of RJ intersect with the systemic marginalization of LGBTQ people—especially poor queer people of color—helps clarify how the RJ framework can elaborate the intersectional understandings of queer reproductive politics and kin.

Article

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

Elizabeth K. Eger, Morgan L. Litrenta, Sierra R. Kane, and Lace D. Senegal

LGBTQ+ people face unique organizational communication dilemmas at work. In the United States, LGBTQ+ workers communicate their gender, sexuality, and other intersecting identities and experiences through complex interactions with coworkers, supervisors, customers, publics, organizations, and institutions. They also utilize specific communication strategies to navigate exclusionary policies and practices and organize for intersectional justice. Five central research themes for LGBTQ+ workers in the current literature include (a) workplace discrimination, (b) disclosure at work, (c) navigating interpersonal relationships at work, (d) inclusive and exclusive policies, and (e) intersectional work experiences and organizing. First, the lived experiences of discrimination, exclusion, and violence in organizations, including from coworkers, managers, and customers, present a plethora of challenges from organizational entry to exit. LGBTQ+ workers face high levels of unemployment and underemployment and experience frequent microaggressions. Queer, trans, and intersex workers also experience prevalent workplace discrimination, uncertainty, and systemic barriers when attempting to use fluctuating national and state laws for workplace protections. Second, such discrimination creates unique risks that LGBTQ+ workers must navigate when it comes to disclosing their identities at work. The complexities of workplace disclosure of LGBTQ+ identities and experiences become apparent through closeting, passing, and outing communication. These three communication strategies for queer, trans, and intersex survival are often read as secretive or deceptive by heterosexual or cisgender coworkers and managers. Closeting communication may also involve concealing information about personal and family relationships at work and other identity intersections. Third, LGBTQ+ people must navigate workplace relationships, particularly with heterosexual and/or cisgender coworkers and managers and in organizations that assume cisheteronormativity. Fourth, policies structure LGBTQ+ workers’ lives, including both the positive impacts of inclusive policies and discrimination and violence via exclusionary policies. Fifth and finally, intersectionality is crucial to theorize when examining LGBTQ+ workers’ communication. It is not enough to just investigate sexuality or gender identity, as they are interwoven with race, class, disability, religion, nationality, age, and more. Important exemplars also showcase how intersectional organizing can create transformative and empowering experiences for LGBTQ+ people. By centering LGBTQ+ workers, this article examines their unique and complex organizational communication needs and proposes future research.

Article

Roberta Chevrette

Scholarship engaging queer theory in tandem with the study of colonialism and empire has expanded in recent years. This interdisciplinary area of research draws from queer of color theorizing and women of color feminists who made these links during queer theory’s emergence and development in social movements and within the field of women’s and gender studies. Together, queer of color, (post)colonial, transnational feminist, and Indigenous scholars and activists have highlighted the centrality of gender and sexuality to colonial, settler colonial, and imperial processes. Among the alignments of queer and (post)colonial inquiry are their emphases on social transformation through critique and resistant praxis. In the communication discipline, scholarship queering the study of colonialism and empire has emerged in critical/cultural studies, intercultural communication, rhetoric, media studies, and performance studies. Two broad thematics defining this scholarship are (a) decolonizing queerness by identifying how queer theory, LGBTQ activism, and queer globalizations have reinforced Whiteness and empire; and (b) queering decolonization by identifying how heteropatriarchal, binary, and normative systems of sex, sexuality, and gender contribute to colonial processes of past and present.

Article

KC Councilor

Queer comics have been a staple of LGBTQIA+ culture, from independent and underground comics beginning in the late 1960s to web comics in the current digital age. Comics are a uniquely queer art form, as comics scholar Hillary Chute has argued, consistently marginalized in the art world. Queer comics have also principally been produced by and for queer audiences, with mainstream recognition not being their primary goal. This marginalization has, in some sense, been a benefit, as these comics have not been captive to the pressures of capitalist aesthetics. This makes queer comics a rich historical archive for understanding queer life and queer communities. Collections of queer comics from the late 1960s and onward have recently been published, making large archives of work widely available. The Queer Zine Archive Project online also houses a large volume of underground and self-published material. There are some affordances inherent to the medium of comics which make it a distinctly powerful medium for queer self-expression and representation. In comics, the passage of time is represented through the space of the page, which makes complex expressions of queer temporality possible. The form is also quite intimate, particularly hand-drawn comics, which retain their original form rather than being translated into type. The reader plays a significant role in the construction of meaning in comics, as what happens between panels in the “gutter” (and is thus not pictured) is as much a part of the story as what is pictured within the panels. In addition to the value of reading queer stories in comic form, incorporating making comics and other creative practices into pedagogy is a powerful way to engage in queer worldmaking.

Article

Megan Elizabeth Morrissey

Deriving from José Esteban Muñoz’s foundational 1999 text Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics, disidentification is a theoretical heuristic and performative practice that is an essential framework for thinking through, and living in, intersecting sites of marginality and oppression. In particular, disidentification is a heuristic that provides critical scholars with a framework for theorizing the relationships between subject formation, ideology, politics, and power while also offering people from marginalized communities a way to navigate intersecting forms of oppression and enact agency. Scholars use disidentification to refer to performances that minoritarian subjects engage in to survive within inhospitable spaces, while nevertheless working to subvert them. Thus, as both a theoretical framework and a performative practice, disidentification is an antiracist tool that can be utilized to theorize and respond to normative power structures including Communication Studies’ modes of disciplinary knowledge production. Indeed, the discipline of Communication Studies is diverse, but in spite of this, what coheres this expansive body of scholarship is an investment in understanding how communication produces, scaffolds, organizes, and potentially revises our world. Disidentification, by foregrounding identities and experiences of difference, offers Communication Studies researchers a way to consider how one’s life can be understood in relation to others, within the social structures that govern daily life, and within the ideological commitments that organize our experiences.

Article

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

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

Cimmiaron Alvarez and Kristina K. 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

Earlier generations of Western scholars often regarded nonheterosexual desires, identities, and intimacies in Chinese-speaking contexts as marginalized, stigmatized, and silenced, if not completely invisible, in mainstream mediascapes and pop cultural spaces. However, in contemporary Chinese and Sinophone contexts, queer practices, images, and narratives voiced, either explicitly or implicitly, by media producers, performers, and consumers or fans who do not necessarily self-identify as LGBTQ are common and even proliferating. These manifestations of queer Chinese media and pop culture are diverse and widespread in both online and offline spaces. In the new millennium, with the rise of queer Asian, queer Chinese, and queer Sinophone studies, scholars have strived to move away from Euro-American-centric and Japanese-centric queer media studies and theories when examining queer Chinese-language media and cultural productions. In particular, a growing body of scholarship (in fields such as literary studies, cinema and television studies, and fan studies) has explored intersecting ways of reconceptualizing “queerness” and “Chineseness” to examine gender, sexual, and sociocultural minority cultures in Chinese-language public and pop cultural spaces. Some of the literature has usefully traced the history of the concepts “homosexuality” and “tongzhi” (comrade) in modern and contemporary China, as well as the transcultural transmission and mutations of the meanings of the English term “queer” (ku’er) in Chinese media studies. Differentiating these concepts helps clarify the theorization of and scholarly debates surrounding queer Chinese media and pop culture in the 21st century. A number of scholars have also troubled the meaning and the essentialized identity of “Chineseness” through a queer lens while decolonizing and de-Westernizing queer Chinese media and pop cultural studies. In addition, post-2010 scholarship has paid major attention to Chinese media censorship and regulations (with a close focus on the context of mainland China/the People’s Republic of China/PRC) concerning homosexual and queer content production, circulation, and consumption and how these have been circumvented in both traditional and online media spaces.

Article

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

Minority stress for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) and African American communities has been well documented over the past 30 years. Generally speaking, being a member of a stigmatized community can lead to alienation from social structures, norms, and institutions, all of which can have negative implications for mental health, well-being, and relationships. When speaking about minority stress and its impact on LGBTQ+ relationships, the research is mixed. Although there are findings that show LGBTQ+ individuals face greater discrimination and more negative health impacts than heterosexual couples, other research notes the positive coping mechanisms that highlight the resilient nature of these couples. For African Americans and other racial minorities, the disparities are greater, with research showing that racial identity is linked to an increase in overall external stressors. However, over the last few years, discrimination toward sexual and racial minorities has reached a critical tipping point. Both within the United States and worldwide, social movements are drawing attention to the historical inequalities experienced by minority groups, and demanding change. Considering minority stress research, methods, and analyses are built on the connection between an individual and their social situations, the construct is due for an evolution, one that is representative of what our world looks like today. Although conceptualizations thus far have been productive in understanding the stressors of the LGBTQ+ and African American communities, there is a need to incorporate critical concepts of intersectionality and expand understanding of what it means to be a member of a minority group.