Recent news from the Center for Civic Media | MIT Center for Civic Media

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Doing Drag in Wal-Mart and Other Stories of Rural Queer Youth: An Interview with Mary L. Gray (Part Three)

You argue that queer identities are "achieved, not discovered." What do you see as the process by which youth outside the metropolitan areas "achieve" a sexual orientation?

I think that what makes queer youth identities organized outside metropolitan areas so different is that they must be negotiated in communities where everyone assumes a deep familiarity with each other. If anonymity, access to critical masses of queer folks, and unfettered exploration of queer-controlled counterpublics define urban queer identity formation (and I think they do for white, middle class queers in major cities), familiarity, an absence of visible queer presence, and circumscribed sharing of boundary publics shape the achievement of rural sexual orientations and gender identities. So, crafting and articulating a sense of queer self where one has, as a talk about in the book, never met a stranger is a vastly different project than what young people able to access a city's LGBT Center or youth program can do.

Doing Drag in Wal-Mart and Other Stories of Rural Queer Youth: An Interview with Mary L. Gray (Part Two)

You pose some critiques of the way national gay rights organizations are structured based on an assumption of large urban bases of supporters. How has this limited their ability to serve the needs of the kind of communities you discuss in your book?

The limits of current national organizing models really hit home for me as I watched rural LGBT Kentuckians attempt to battle an anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment campaign. It was 2004 and the elections were heating up. Like so many other states that year, Kentucky not only had the Presidential candidates on the ballot, it also had this amendment to contend with. Every effort spent on fighting this amendment looked like the best of legislative politics--voter drives, campaign fundraisers, door-to-door campaigns to not only get out the vote but also educate voters about the incendiary amendment likely to hurt unmarried opposite-sex couples as much as it would ban same-sex couples from marrying.

This Week in Civic Media 09.10.10: Tech and Youth, Selectricity source code, Comm Forums

From the Center

Our co-sponsored Fall Communications Forums (more speakers still being added)

From our friends

Doing Drag in Wal-Mart and Other Stories of Rural Queer Youth: An Interview with Mary L. Gray (Part One)

Mary L. Gray's Out in The Country: Youth, Media, and Queer Visibility in Rural America is an extraordinary book -- accessible, engaging and engaged, combining vivid storytelling and sophisticated theory-building. Gray captures the powerful stories of young people of varied sexuality as they construct and defend their identities in parts of the country which have been overlooked by most previous scholars focusing on queer culture and politics. They took Gray into their lives and she in turn shares with us what their world looks and feels like in ways which will challenge many of our preconceptions about what it means to be gay-les-bi-trans in America. You will learn here about the fragile publics that get constructed by these youth when they gather in Christian bookstores, church basements, even the aisles of Wal-Mart and seek to find common cause with each other.

Department of Play Asks: Can Technology Improve the Lives of Youth?

On August 10th and 11th, 2010, the Department of Play (DoP) hosted its first Summer Institute, a workshop for practitioners and researchers, all with one thing in common: a commitment to improving the lives of youth through technology. The purpose of the Summer Institute was to bring together people from across the globe that were pursuing similar work, but had not necessarily connected with one another yet. Attendees were asked to rethink the role of technology in youth participation, social inclusion and local civic engagement, and in the process form meaningful partnerships for future projects.


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