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Mary L. Gray

My research agenda concentrates on contemporary gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans-identifying youth experiences in the United States (see In Your Face: Stories From the Lives of Queer Youth, Haworth Press, 1999). Currently, I am interested in the ways queer identities and communication technologies intersect.

My most recent research project examined how rural young people and their advocates use local support agencies, peer networks, and the Internet’s digital environments as sites and technologies of sexual and gender representation and what I refer to as queer identity work.

(manuscript synopsis and chapter summaries available here)

Methodologically blending ethnography and critical content analysis, this project engages three areas of debate: 1) I examine the unique relationships youth have to modern constructions of sexual and gendered subjects that queer/sexuality scholarship currently imagines. 2) Additionally, I consider how rural queer life challenges us to theorize queer experiences in ways that break the current reliance on urban paradigms. 3) Lastly, I look at how new media technologies take part in producing and circulating queer categories and how the materiality of rural young queer life increasingly—although differentially—involves entanglements with online spaces.

I ask: where, when, and how rural youth seeking support acquire their articulation of LGBT identities? And, with the rapid but unequal incorporation of new information technologies into the lives of youth and their support agencies, what difference does the Internet’s increasing presence—and presumed ubiquity—make to youth negotiating their sense of sexuality and gender in the rural United States?

Other research projects in the works