“Coming out okay”: Community narratives for LGBTQ identity recovery work

Brianna Dym, Jed R. Brubaker, Casey Fiesler, Bryan Semaan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Online communities provide support for those who are vulnerable, such as LGBTQ people while coming out. Research shows that social support and personal narrative construction are important when recovering from personal crises and traumatic events. As an online community focused on writing fanfiction and also consisting of a large number of LGBTQ members, transformative fandom provides an opportunity to examine the relationship between support, crisis, and narrative. Through an interview study with 31 LGBTQ fanfiction authors, our findings mirror Herman’s model of trauma recovery: these spaces self-organize to support recovery work through constructing "community narratives" that help LGBTQ people establish safety when exploring their identity and build LGBTQ support structures without publicly outing themselves before they are ready, challenge stereotypes, and support others through reshaping existing media that perpetuate inaccurate or harmful LGBTQ narratives. These online communities embody "selective visibility"–that is, though not specifically designed as support structures for identity work and recovery, their design allows people to selectively find and create communities of support for stigmatized issues that they might be unable to safely seek out in other spaces. Based on lessons learned, we generate insights that can inform the design of safe support spaces online.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number154
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Issue numberCSCW
StatePublished - Nov 2019


  • Fandom
  • Fanfiction
  • Recovery
  • Trauma
  • Visuality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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