Tumblr’s Vital Queer Community Is Disintegrating
Besides a still rampant porn bot problem, adult content on Tumblr is pretty much gone
At the turn of the millennium, I was a young adult just beginning to understand my own queer identity: who I was attracted to, what I wanted from relationships, how I understood myself as a queer person. As a college student in New York City, I was surrounded by resources that promised access to this knowledge — campus queer groups, dance parties, the bar scene — but none of them quite met my needs. I was shy and nightlife-averse.
So I went to the internet. An avid LiveJournal user, I connected with other queers, gaining a deeper sense of what it might mean to be queer through their stories. (The vibe was well documented in a comic from The Nib called “LiveJournal Made Me Gay.”). LiveJournal ultimately connected me to the now-defunct queer message board Strap-On.org, where users gathered to gossip, chat, and engage in the kinds of discussions about identity that wouldn’t enter the mainstream discourse for another decade or so.
As the years went by and the internet shifted and changed, sites like LiveJournal and Strap-On.org fell out of favor, hemorrhaging their audiences to newer (and more profitable) social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. But parts of the internet remained a place where queers could find a community, with one major hub in particular: Tumblr.
“I couldn’t scroll two feet without tripping over queer content, and it was glorious.”
Recently, Tumblr has become more corporate and restrictive in its content policies, which feel particularly hostile to the platform’s vibrant queer community. As Pride Month wraps up, I wanted to take a look at the role Tumblr played in fostering many young queers on their journey to self-realization — and what we might lose as Tumblr’s queer community disintegrates.
“Queer Tumblr,” as it came to be known across the internet, represented a specific kind of discourse. It fostered a hypersensitive, extremely woke conversation focused on one-upmanship and proving one’s queer cred through an embrace of an expansive (and not particularly…