I have a new journal article out in Information, Communication & Society, one of the most prestigious and high-impact journals for research in Information and Communication Studies. The article, titled “Queer Information Literacies: Social and Technological Circulation in the Rural Midwestern United States,” explores the information landscape of rural LGBTQ people. You can read it here. Email me if you don’t have institutional access to it and I’m happy to provide a link for a free download from the publisher.
The article is based off of ethnographic fieldwork with rural LGBTQ people in the Upper Midwestern United States. In it, I document the various information sources, both digital and analog, that rural LGBTQ people use and the relationships between those information sources. I argue that circulation through different kinds of information sources leads to the creation of different understandings of what it means to be a part of the LGBTQ community. This difference in understanding LGBTQ identity and community is particularly impactful in rural communities, who naturally have much smaller populations of LGBTQ people. When these differences in understanding lead to conflict in rural places, it has an outsized impact in those communities.
Through all of this, I propose the concept of queer information literacy: a process through which LGBTQ people find, recognize, share, and create information related to their sexual and gender identities. Queer information literacy reframes information literacy to be seen as a cultural process of coming to understand one’s identity, rather than a process of learning and teaching normally associated with institutions (e.g., colleges and libraries).
I believe that this concept (and the paper more broadly) has a lot to offer research in many fields that deal with information, media, and rurality. Feel free to reach out to me if you’re interested in talking about it. I’m happy to chat more about the paper and my ongoing research with rural LGBTQ people in the Midwest.