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Indiana University research at the American Sociological Association annual meeting
Date:8/8/2009

Dozens of Indiana University researchers are participating in the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association. Below are examples of some of the studies.

OUT IN THE COUNTRY

Gay depictions in the media have "exploded" in the last 10 years but rural gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual youth still find it difficult to find people like them on TV or in the movies. Instead, many turn to the Internet to help them come to terms with their sexual identity and rural lifestyle.

Rather than using the Internet to mentally escape their surroundings, where peers are scarce, youth in an ethnographic study by Indiana University researcher Mary Gray used it to find people like them, either nearby or simply dealing with similar issues.

"They were looking for representations that talked about living out in the country, not escapism," Gray said. "It validated the possibility of living in a rural community. There are quite literally youth who would show these coming out stories to their family and friends, saying 'there are kids like me living in places like this.'"

Gray, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication and Culture in IU Bloomington's College of Arts and Sciences, spent 19 months talking and interacting with rural youth in Kentucky and along its Appalachian borders. She also writes about her findings in the book Out in the Country: Youth, Media, and Queer Visibility in Rural America (NYU Press 2009), published on Aug. 1.

Gray conducted her research between 2001 and 2004, before the rapid growth of social media. While the Internet was useful to youth, it was often a challenge for the youth to have access to computers in ways in which they felt safe to explore, either because they did not have exclusive use of home computers or because of other factors, such as monitoring software at their schools.

Gray's presentation is scheduled for 8:30 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 8, in
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Contact: Tracy James
traljame@indiana.edu
812-855-0084
Indiana University
Source:Eurekalert  

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