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The Macksey Journal

Abstract

Queerness and neurodivergence have been marginalized, policed, and oppressed throughout history, and individuals are frequently pressured to conceal or “closet” these important facets of their lived experiences. With the advent of globalization and hyperconnectivity through the internet and social media platforms, marginalized communities are able to find a larger and sometimes safer space online to learn and be validated about their identities through solidarity and visibility. However, the digitalization of community-building and identity production also allows for anyone to potentially see users’ profiles and activity. This navigation has been complicated through the access of family, peers, and employers who may not know or accept these individuals’ identities, and sometimes people are forced to filter their social media feed, personal information, and interaction with online groups in order to survive and not be outed; sometimes they create completely separate and more anonymous accounts specifically for this reason. Through an analysis of qualitative and quantitative studies based on queer and neurodivergent experiences both on and offline, and the impact of social media on these experiences, this paper will provide a deeper understanding of personalized community presences online and will be argued within the Foucaultian panoptic principles of identity self-regulation and normalization of “acceptable identities” such as heteronormativity and neurotypicality from constant surveillance and accessibility to personal information online. This research will also explore the necessary sites of resistance where groups are able to bond and mobilize within the virtual and physical normativized world.

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