“” Whenever I’m trying to make the argument that the internet is not all bad—or even all bad when it comes to kids—I invoke a hypothetical LGBTQ teen. This teen is growing up in a town or country where it’s risky to be out, and can’t count on family support, either.

A generation ago, that teen would have lived for the day they could move to a big city, or at least to a country that isn’t actively repressing gay and trans rights. Until that time, the story goes, they’d be condemned to a life of secrecy, loneliness and possibly even self-harm. Today, that teen doesn’t have to feel so alone—at least in theory—because the internet makes it possible to connect with other LGBTQ people all over the world.

But after years of invoking this hypothetical and heart-warming scenario, I found myself wondering: does it really do justice to the experience of LGBTQ people—or even LGBTQ teens—online? Pride Month seems like the perfect time to dig deeper, and to see what queer and media studies can tell us about the complex ways the internet has changed what it means to be part of the LGBTQ community. “”


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In her biweekly column “The Digital Voyage,” Alexandra Samuel investigates the key psychological, social, and practical challenges of migrating to an online world. Reach her on Twitter @awsamuel.