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social sciences

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Computers, the Internet, and New Media  
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Problems Connected with CMC

The above has offered an upbeat account of how new modes of computer-mediated communication have had a beneficial and empowering effect for a variety of queer people and communities. However, the Internet has come under fire from some quarters precisely because it makes a whole range of sexual activities and representations so freely available.

Firstly, concern is raised about the easy access that minors have to pornographic material. Of particular concern is the manner in which the Internet can be used by to traffic in images of children. Internet sex is considered, too, to have a deleterious effect on some adults who may become "addicted" to online sex to the extent that online relationships supersede and exclude face-to-face relationships with other people.

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Some research also suggests that the increase in sexual partners facilitated by the Internet, and the anonymous manner in which sex can be arranged, has resulted in an increase in sexually transmitted diseases, including syphilis and HIV.

Moreover, if the Internet has provided opportunities for individuals to gain accurate and positive information about alternate sexualities and glbtq history and culture, it has also afforded anti-gay activists and hate groups an opportunity to spread disinformation and defamation.

However, none of these problems is insurmountable. Filtering software can block out most material with sexual content on computers accessed by children and, contrary to media reports, child pornography is scrupulously avoided by all legitimate porn sites, which refuse to post images of minors under age 18. The few illegal sites that traffic in this material are monitored by police and citizens' groups and these sites' visitors are often traced through their credit-card details and prosecuted for their activities.

Media reports about Internet sex "addiction" and the spread of disease are also often exaggerated. On the contrary, the Internet has proven a very effective mechanism for spreading information about safe sex beyond communities of self-identified gay men. Many sites offer online discussion forums moderated by health-care professionals who can counsel and guide people with sexual health concerns and direct them to relevant offline services.

Moreover, at the very heart of the democratic faith in free speech is the belief that in the competition of ideas truth will eventually triumph. Hence, the counter to the abuse of free speech by those who propagate falsehoods, intolerance, and hatred is more speech by those who argue on behalf of truth, tolerance, and acceptance of sexual and gender difference.

In sum, computer-mediated communications available via the Internet offer great benefits to queer people that are only partially replicated by conventional print and other media. These benefits include the ability to discover accurate information, network with likeminded individuals, and establish a safe space for the development of a range of identities and communities. Most important, perhaps, is the opportunity afforded glbtq people to speak in their own voices and represent themselves--an opportunity only infrequently offered by other mass media.

Mark McLelland

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social sciences >> Overview:  Gay and Lesbian Bars

The centrality of gay and lesbian bars to glbtq culture has been reduced in recent years, but they continue to fulfill important functions; and, in many areas, they remain the most visible manifestation of glbtq presence.

social sciences >> Overview:  Identity Politics

Not limited to activity in the traditionally conceived political sphere, identity politics refers to activism, politics, theorizing, and other similar activities based on the shared experiences of members of a specific social group, often relying on shared experiences of oppression.

literature >> Overview:  Journalism and Publishing

The gay and lesbian press is of prime importance in sustaining a frequently embattled minority and has been crucial in the development of a national mass movement for gay rights.

social sciences >> Overview:  Political Blogs

The explosion of political blogs has served to multiply greatly the number of voices    participating in glbtq activism and to expedite the transmission of political information to glbtq communities.

arts >> Overview:  Pornographic Film and Video: Bisexual

Bisexual pornography began in earnest during the mid-1980s, but the quality and number of bisexual videos has decreased dramatically since their heyday in the 1980s.

arts >> Overview:  Pornographic Film and Video: Gay Male

Gay male pornographic film and video, which dates from the release of Wakefield Poole's The Boys in the Sand in 1971, has provided gay men an all-too-rare positive image of gay sexuality.

arts >> Overview:  Pornographic Film and Video: Lesbian

Although pornography is controversial among lesbians, it has nonetheless been openly embraced by a faction of pro-sex lesbians, and there has emerged a small but growing film and video industry committed to authentic lesbian pornography.

arts >> Overview:  Pornographic Film and Video: Transsexual

Most of the pornography that features transsexuals is neither made by nor for them, but in recent years trans porn activists have began to produce pornography for transsexual and other queer audiences.

social sciences >> Overview:  Rural Life

Rural life offers both challenges and satisfactions for glbtq people.

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Stereotypes usually include inaccurate and negative assumptions about groups, thus contributing to racism, classism, sexism, and homophobia.

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Straight men who have sex with men do so for a number of reasons, but in general such activity is about physical release and sexual behaviors, not about attraction or desire for another man.

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The direct action group GetEqual has gained attention by its bold action, including civil disobedience, on behalf of equal rights for glbtq people.

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Chris Hughes, one of the founders of the social networking site Facebook, also spearheaded the social networking efforts of the 2008 Obama campaign; he and his partner Sean Eldridge are activists for marriage equality.

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Balderston, Meredith. "Pornography Online, Lesbian Style." Web.Studies. David Gauntlett and Ross Horsley, eds. 2nd edition. London: Arnold, 2004. 137-145.


Campbell, John Edward. Getting It On Online. New York: Harrington Park Press, 2004.



Special Edition: "Queer Webs: Representations of LGBT People and Communities on the World Wide Web." International Journal of Sexuality and Gender Studies 7.2/3 (July 2002).

Youth Suicide Problems: Gay/Bisexual Homepage.


    Citation Information
    Author: McLelland, Mark  
    Entry Title: Computers, the Internet, and New Media  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2005  
    Date Last Updated August 19, 2005  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2005, glbtq, inc.  


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