This article focuses on how lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) adults in 159 “It Gets Better” videos used happiness discourse to provide advice for an assumed adolescent viewer experiencing anti-queer bullying. Employing a grounded theory approach to analyze the videos and building on sociological analyses of changing sexuality norms, the author develops the concept of “disregarding heteronormativity” to account for processes that draw attention away from the widespread privileging and normalizing of heterosexuality. Indeed, findings reveal that makers of the videos not only localized anti-LGBTQ violence and harassment to adolescent schools, emphasizing the decline or disappearance of discriminatory events into adulthood, but also emphasized happiness and positivity more than power relations and structural constraints. At times, this emphasis included suggestions that bullied LGBTQ youth could improve their lives by adopting a more positive outlook or ignoring the negative opinions of other people. Thus, makers of the videos generally positioned violence against queer youth as primarily solvable through emotional management, contributing to the individualizing and depoliticizing of this social problem. In contrast, the author argues for analyses that resist the disregarding of heteronormativity and instead position unequal power relations as enduring and widespread structural features of US society.
Sexuality Research and Social Policy – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 10, 2017
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