Researching social media: twitter and homophobia

11 Dec

It’s some time now since I last posted about twitter and therefore, when reading about Nohomophobes last friday in the Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera, I thought it would be a suitable choice for a post addressing both a Communication topic (twitter) and a Sociological one (homophobia).

nohomophobes alltimeAn initiative of the ISMSS Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services at the University of Alberta, Nohomophobes keeps track of how often Tweets include the words ‘faggot’, ‘dyke’, ‘so gay’ and ‘no homo’, and is therefore «designed as a social mirror to show the prevalence of casual homophobia in our society. Words and phrases like “faggot,” “dyke,” “no homo,” and “so gay” are used casually in everyday language, despite promoting the continued alienation, isolation and — in some tragic cases — suicide of sexual and gender minority (LGBTQ) youth. We no longer tolerate racist language, we’re getting better at dealing with sexist language, but sadly we’re still not actively addressing homophobic and transphobic language in our society».

Whether we truly are getting better at dealing with racist and sexist language, I dare not say (and I’m not exclusively thinking of my native country), and yet it’s just such academic initiatives as Nohomophobes that, even if ‘only’ by making us conscious of our casual discriminatory language, can help individuals and societies getting better.

As far as (discriminatory) language is concerned: should you want to know more about the origins, meanings and use of such terms as dyke, faggot and gay, take a look at the Encyclopedia of Homosexuality, freely accessible at Berlin Humboldt-University‘s site.

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