“Bois of Isolation”: queering place, gender binaries and the ‘self’ through selfies in pandemic lockdown

Dawn Woolley, A. C. Davidson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


What happens to queer and gender-non-conforming community, bodily expression and identity when many queer spaces are closed and communities move to online spaces? In this article, we critically reflect on our collaborative project bois of isolation (boi)–a platform within Instagram for people to share selfies of the spaces and processes through which they queer gender binaries during the COVID-19 pandemic. We ask to what extent online social media spaces can disrupt normative, binarized gender identity and provide ways of reimagining the selfie. Operating within digital capitalism, selfies often serve to circulate and reproduce dominant ‘desirable’ subjectivities in ‘gender appropriate’ places. However, we argue through interventions like boi young people carve out small spaces of dissent and respite in/from social media platforms and create forms of community during lockdown. By queering the visual representations of binarized gender and questioning the neoliberal individualized ‘self’ in ‘selfies’, young people construct communal aesthetic spaces in which gender plurality and fluidity are expressed and celebrated.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Gender Studies
Early online date11 Aug 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Aug 2023

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