Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The LGBTQA+ group blog

Earlier I talked about the main failure mode of group blogs.  On a tangential note, I'd like to talk a bit about a particular kind of group blog, the LGBTQA+ group blog.  I feel like this idea... usually just doesn't work.  If you enjoy reading a blog of that sort, or even contribute to one, I'm not telling you to stop, I'm just trying to identify problems with the model as a whole.

It sounds like a good idea on paper.  Inclusiveness is a strong value among queer people, and it sounds great to have a place where we include all kinds of queer voices.  Maybe we'll all learn a bit more about each other.  The problem is, that this requires multiple different voices, and it requires them to contribute roughly equal amounts.  As I explained earlier, it's very difficult to form a group blog where everyone contributes equally, and the pressure to contribute equally may just kill the will to write.

The second problem is that the topic is too broad.  This is fine for an individual blog, because it is the individual's voice that ties everything together.  For a group blog, the voice is less distinctive.  It lacks cohesiveness.  Who is the target audience?

Lastly, I've seen a number of blogs which include asexuality as one of their topics, and this has particularly strange consequences.  The asexual audience behaves very differently from the gay/lesbian audience, because there is relatively little asexual material out there, and lots of demand for it.  A queer blog that includes asexual voices really stands out--to the asexual audience.  Gay/lesbian people don't get nearly so excited about yet another gay/lesbian blog.  So we have this weird thing where asexuality is the most invisible identity, but occasionally dominates an LGBTQA+ group blog.

I think one exception to this trend is Queereka.  I don't know what they're doing differently, but it seems to work.  Queereka is a skepticism blog, so perhaps skepticism provides a focus for the blog, giving it the cohesiveness it needs.

I'm a long-time advocate of asexual inclusion in queer spaces.  However, I do not argue for ace inclusion on a priori grounds; it is not, in general, true that whenever we talk about X, we should also talk about Y. It is not necessarily the case that asexuality goes well with GLB, or for that matter, that GLB goes well with T.  Rather, I believe it is the correct choice given our current cultural context. There may be more specific contexts where putting the different letters of the alphabet soup together is not the correct choice. Queer group blogs is one particular context where maybe it doesn't work, or it's at least difficult to work.