Queering the web
Although we have long been seduced by the reveries of the Internet, virtual space has acquired a whole new meaning amidst the pandemic. At the time of crisis, digital spaces have become havens for community organizing, mutual care, and pleasure seeking. While the Internet has affected each one of us differently during the past year, the queer community has been able to collectively adapt and then prolifically maneuver the capitalist mechanisms behind the pandemic era cyberspace. By taking a close look at a live-streaming platform and an online party phenomenon, this program will decipher the way that queer, trans and Two-Spirit people have been employing the commercialized web technologies to care for each other and ourselves. The program will be followed by a Q&A with the presenters moderated by Dr. Jonathan Petrychyn.
Introduction to Twitch as a Queer Broadcasting and Socializing Space
Social media platforms are now seen as being “public space,” especially with the current restrictions on public gatherings. They are, however, private spaces, much akin to shops, bars, or theaters. As such, the users are expected to follow a set of rules, which can be changed for legal reasons or for the financial benefit of the platform’s user. Twitch is a live streaming service with a particularly steep learning curve for creators and a surprisingly diverse array of content. Robin Gaudreau’s workshop explains the basics of streaming non-gaming content to Twitch, and the functionalities that allow the viewers to interact with the creators, including plug-ins to increase accessibility and avenues of monetization. During the workshop, Robin will also showcase a selection of queer Twitch streamers.
“Club Culture Is Our Healing”: Club Quarantine’s Queer Uses of Zoom for Mutual Aid and Communal care
This presentation investigates how queer communities and queer people are appropriating digital technology in the new circumstances of the pandemic. More specifically, it focuses on a case study of Club Quarantine, a series of online queer dance parties based on the videoconferencing platform Zoom, to ask how virtual clubs such as Club Q appropriate and queer the affordances of Zoom in order to foster communal care and mutual aid. Through analysis of media coverage and Club Q’s promotional social media, along with an examination of Zoom’s videoconferencing software, our research identifies how certain features and functionalities of Zoom are used in order to “digitize” the queer party. Using a hybrid analytical lens drawing from Sara Ahmed’s conceptualization of “queer use” and theories of technological appropriation, we observe how queer counterpublics appropriate corporate platforms such as Zoom in order to deploy resilient, alternative infrastructure for community building in times of emergency.
Presented by Anne-Marie Trépanier and Dr. Stefanie Duguay.