Episode 252 - Dr. Lauren McInroy: Participation in Online Fandom Communities and Identity Development of LGBTQ+ Youth

Monday, November 19, 2018, 8:48:10 AM

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In this episode, our guest Dr. Lauren McInroy discusses her research exploring the relationship between participation in online fandom communities among LGBTQ+ youth and certain aspects of identity development. She explains how online fandom can foster resilience, heighten well-being, and help LGBTQ+ youth navigate challenges. The episode concludes by stressing why social workers need to recognize the importance of online communities for marginalized adolescents and young adults.

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Average Rating: 5stars  interesting research and great recommendations for social workers, Sunday, February 09, 2020

By Sarah H. :

Dr. Laura McInroy presented her research on the relationship between LGBTQ+ youths’ participation in online fandom communities and the development of their identity in an engaging way. She was enthusiastic about the topic and her explanations where easily understandable. Furthermore, in addition to an overview of her findings, she provided enough details for listener to feel as though they had a comprehensive understanding of her research. I appreciated her recommendations to social workers regarding the importance of recognizing the potential significance online fandom communities to the LGBTQ+ youth who partake in them. I believe her recommendations speak to the ongoing need for social works to pay greater attention to how technology is playing a more significant role client’s lives and will become an increasingly significant factor in the field. I also valued Dr. Nancy Smyth’s paraphrasing of Dr. McInroy’s statements, which served to highlight key concepts. Additionally, I enjoyed that she began the conversation by discussing of the utilization of the term queer, the concept of fandoms and the population being studied. Doing so helped to ground the conversation, serving to ensure that the listener had a base level of knowledge before diving into the Dr. McInroy’s study.

While the podcast provided insight into the Dr. McInroy’s findings that participation in fandom online communities by LGBTQ+ youth can result in identity development, increased feelings of resilience and greater confidence to navigate offline challenges, there was little discussion about the aspects of the communities that may have resulted in these findings. I would have enjoyed hearing more about how these communities act as a place of support and positive reinforcement as well as what about them leads to increased identity discovery in certain areas. I think this would have been very interesting to hear about and added a great deal of depth to the conversation.

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Average Rating: 5stars  fandoms: a safe and creative space for lgbtq+ youth, Saturday, April 20, 2019

By Jenna Turchiarelli :

I very much enjoyed this podcast and information about this research for a myriad of reasons. First and foremost, it seems as if there is a lack of validation of LGBTQ identities of young people in the offline world. To have empirical evidence of the existence of LGBTQ identities in young people will help in the validation and normalization of these identities and their identity development.

Secondly, I very much appreciate the research noting that online activity and specifically those of fandoms are not an isolating experience that young people use to ignore the world, but precisely the opposite. Fandoms are such an important space for LGBTQ youth to have a safe environment to explore and express their identity, to find safe and validating friendships with both LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ youth, and to feel free to express their creative side in the most authentic and uninhibited fashion.

Implications of this research would encourage social work practitioners to familiarize themselves with what fandoms are, with lesser-known online communities, and the outcomes of involvement in these communities. To be able to discuss fandoms as an example of a safe-space for our LGBTQ youth is a fantastic development in the competencies of social workers that engage with LGBTQ individuals regardless of age or parents of LGBTQ youth.

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Average Rating: 5stars  lgbtq identity and fandom: an often unspoken part of the lgbtq experience, Monday, February 04, 2019

By Rave :

I was thrilled to find an episode about this topic and see that there is ongoing research about it. Fandom has been, in my own personal experience, hugely influential for myself and several peers in recognizing and expressing our identities.In many ways, fandom acts as a "safe space" for kids and young adults who are trying to figure out who they are.

Some of these kids and young adults, as is brought out in this episode, have limited or no social supports outside of these online communities. So it warms my heart to see research results that show that online fandom communities have been able to mitigate some of that.

My favorite part was the mention of an increased "inner sense of strength and motivation." That's some very powerful stuff! Great episode, and extremely valuable research.

It is so, so interesting to me to see the majority of participants in this study agree that participation of fandom has influenced their identity formation. We see a lot of criticism that kids and young adults these days spend way too much time on social media. But sometimes majority groups tend to forget how isolating it can be to navigate local social spaces as someone who identifies say, as a lesbian, or as a trans woman.

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Average Rating: 5stars  fandom and lgbtq+ youth, Saturday, February 02, 2019

By Anonymous :

I think this is a great discussion on the intersection of fandom and LGBTQ+ youth. Dr. McInroy is very knowledgeable and provides a clear view of the many facets of the topic. It is very informative and provides great insights into a particular culture that many people may not even be aware of. Having encountered it in real life, Dr. McInroy paints an accurate picture of the experience of discovering an identity through fandom. Having knowledge of this subject can be key for social workers that encounter LGBTQ youth because it may have had a key role in their development of identity and navigation of early life.

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Average Rating: 5stars  online communities and lbgtqia+ youth, Saturday, February 02, 2019

By Anonymous :

Addressing that online presents a community that people, particularly LGBTQ+ youth, may not have in real life is important in all professions that work with this population. In my experience both as a patient and human service worker I never thought to bring up the online world as a support system or resource. The internet provides the opportunity for people to connect with one another on different topics from fun to serious. The aspect that fandom communities bring to the internet is a connection already with each other over a common interest which provides the opportunity for relationship development. From YouTube to Tumblr there are different website for people to connect. I’ve come across one YouTuber who is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and makes educational videos around topics of mental health. I think this is a great way of making the connection to youth who often use the internet for connection and entertainment. It’s important to note that while connecting online provides more opportunity for relationships and it is beneficial and important, there is something that can’t be replaced when it comes to interacting in person. There are different conventions throughout the world that unite fandom communities however, they are often costly and require travel. Asking about online life could be a question on an intake form which would provide the opportunity to talk about it and give online relationships validity.

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