Alternative Title

LGBTQ identity formation and the Internet /

Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Study Type



School for Social Work


Sexual minorities-Identity, Internet, Social media, Queer, LGBTQ, GLBT, Transgender, Online, Identity, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Gender, Sexuality


This qualitative, exploratory study examined the impact of the internet on the identity formation process of LGBTQ individuals. This study aimed to answer the question: How and why do some LGBTQ-identified adults use the internet as a tool to formulate their sexual/gender identity? Through an anonymous online survey, LGBTQ identified participants were asked several open-ended questions about their identity formation experiences, and the role of the internet on this process.

Fifty individuals participated in the study, from a wide range of sexual and gender identities, half of which identified as transgender or gender non-conforming. Of these participants, most indicated that the internet was helpful in their identity formation, citing social media, blogs, and e-mail communication as the most commonly used platforms. Participants described the internet as useful for combatting isolation, experimenting and exploring, seeking out information, learning new conceptualizations of identity, and increased authenticity and intimacy. Negative experiences online were also discussed. The research indicated that clinicians working with LGBTQ and questioning clients should bring online efforts into the therapeutic space, and assist clients in managing the risks and benefits of internet use. Areas for further research were suggested.




iv, 64 pages. M.S.W., Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Ma., 2016. Includes bibliographical references (page 52-57)

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Social Work Commons