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For my final thesis for my Communications degree, I completed a study on the effects of queerbaiting (the act of writers and media companies of teasing the idea that a character is queer, then not following through) on young queer people. This study essentially focused on the effects of queerbaiting on young queer people's attitudes toward their own identities.


            Queer and LGBTQ+ people have existed since the beginning of humans themselves, but are just now getting the air time and media attention they deserve. While they have existed for as long as the human race has existed, queer and LGBTQ+ identities have been scrutinized in society for all that time. For that reason, it has been difficult to find identities that represent those people in the media, much less representations of those identities that are well rounded and more accurate. While it is easy to find people in the media to represent white people, women, or many other identities, well rounded queer and LGBTQ+ identities are still sparing on modern day television and in movies.

            The term “queerbaiting” entered the popular lexicon in the past decade (Interdisciplinary Dictionary), with much of the discussion around the term taking place on the social media platform, Tumblr. From the Interdisciplinary Dictionary at The College of William and Mary, the definition of queerbaiting is “The act of drawing in LGBTQIA viewers with the promise of representation in a piece of media without the intention of actually providing or following through on said representation”. It has become something that is seen in much of popular media. For many, identity formation and identity acceptance can be aided intensely by seeing themselves represented in someone they look up to, whether that be a fictional character or a real life person.

            In exploring media representations of sexual minorities, such as the queer and LGBTQ+ communities, I became curious about two things. The first, the presence of representations of the queer and LGBTQ+ communities, and the second, the effects that those representations have on the people in the community.

            With these curiosities came the development of the following research questions:

            How do positive and negative representations of queer and LGBTQ+ identities impact the sense of identity and self-image in young queer people?

            How does queerbaiting impact the sense of identity and self-image of young queer people?

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