Hello! My name is Brian Rentas and I am a senior at Pace’s New York City campus. This year, I will be working with Dr. Emilie Zaslow of the Communication Studies department on a project analyzing online communities for parents with LGBTQ children in order to explore the ways in which knowledge about parenting, advocacy, care, childhood and sexuality are constructed by parents of the community.
The coming out process is an extremely critical action within the development of self-identity of adolescents, making this research both timely and important. We want to examine online communities specifically to see if there has been a paradigm shift in knowledge: in the past, it was considered the norm for parents of LGBTQ to reach out to other family members, friends, peers or professionals after experiencing the delicate nature of having a child come out – advice and knowledge seemed to be spread, typically, through very small social circles. With the increasing popularity of the internet, we are curious to see if online communications such as forums, listservs and blogs have fostered a sense of community, and if so, what sort of knowledge is spread through these communities.
We will be reaching out to various communities for permission to examine any available communications, and once permission is granted, qualitative analysis will provide us with various results. We want to see if there is a steady increase in parents reaching out via the internet to other parents, or if the paradigm is still keeping it within the realm of close family and friends. We have just started pinpointing some communities we would like to reach out to, so by the next blog post I will possibly clue you in on anything we have found at that point!