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Political Blogs  
 
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One of the most significant manifestations of grassroots activism by glbtq communities in the new millennium has been the proliferation of political blogs focused on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and issues. The explosion of glbtq political blogs in the twenty-first century has served to multiply greatly the number of voices participating in glbtq activism and to expedite the transmission of political information and analysis to glbtq communities.

Definitions

The term blog is a contraction of "Web log." A type of website that features text and images (including videos), a blog is a form of Internet publication that usually aspires to creating an online community or to participating in one. Usually, a blog is updated regularly, with entries displayed in reverse-chronological order. Blogs also usually facilitate interactivity and community by allowing readers to comment on the entries and engage in conversation with each other as well as with the writer. They also usually provide links to related blogs, sometimes called a "Blog Roll," so that readers can easily navigate from one blog to another.

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The term blog is also used to refer to the piece (or collectively, pieces) of writing posted on a Web log, and it is also used as a verb: to blog means to write for a Web log. A blogger is someone who writes blogs.

Harking back to the origins of the modern blog in online diaries in which students and others posted accounts of their daily lives, many blogs are intensely personal, functioning almost as a running account of a writer's private life and thoughts. Others, however, provide commentary on specific topics, such as film or sports, or on current events or culture. Some blogs are maintained on large websites, with bloggers functioning much as columnists or op-ed writers do in print newspapers and magazines, while other blogs are independent expressions of an individual or group interested in a particular subject, often published on dedicated Web hosting services.

Facilitated by the development of easy-to-use software in the late 1990s, blogging exploded in the early years of the twenty-first century. The number of blogs maintained worldwide is staggering, now exceeding one hundred million.

Political blogging in the United States had become widespread enough, and had attracted enough readers, to become a significant factor in the 2004 and 2006 national elections. By 2008, the "blogosphere" (a term coined to denote the collective community of blogs) had become varied and large enough to serve as an important gauge of public interest in particular issues and an important factor in the Presidential election. The Obama campaign proved especially adroit in using blogs successfully in the 2008 campaign.

Some political blogs are written by well-known public figures, others by self-effacing, almost anonymous posters. Some blogs are off-shoots of mainstream media (as when newspapers or television networks and stations or prominent journalists maintain blogs), while others conceive themselves in opposition to mainstream media, attempting to highlight issues neglected by those media or to approach them from a different vantage point. Some are written to advance particular ideologies and are posted on sites dedicated to specific issues or viewpoints, while others function largely to share information rather than to shape opinion.

GLBTQ Political Blogs

In March 2008, a Harris Interactive and Witeck-Combs Communications poll revealed a substantially higher percentage of reading, posting, and commenting on blogs by gay and lesbian adults than by heterosexual adults. The survey found that 51% of glbtq users of the Web regularly read blogs as opposed to 36% of heterosexuals. More narrowly focused, the survey discovered that 23% of glbtq users of the Web regularly followed political blogs as compared to 14% of heterosexuals. In addition, 27% of gay men and lesbians had commented on a blog within a month of the survey as compared to 13% of heterosexuals. Moreover, 21% of gay men and lesbians said that they had themselves written a blog within the last month as compared with 7% of heterosexuals surveyed.

These statistics indicate not only that blogging is more common among gay men and lesbians than among heterosexuals, but that blogs are significant in expressing and shaping glbtq political opinion. While the Internet has profoundly affected communication generally, it has had a particularly important impact on glbtq people. Through the Internet, sexual minorities have been able to forge virtual communities in which they are able to network with like-minded individuals and in which they are able to express themselves directly in ways that they are frequently denied in "real" life.

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Journalist Rex Wockner is one of several prominent gay political bloggers. Photograph by Mike Tidmus.
  
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