Aiming to construct empirically-grounded theoretical insights related to the suggestion that Internet forums are especially attractive to people with ‘unusual’ identities, this article studies how participation in an online forum for orthodox protestant homosexuals can be understood in relation to experiences in offline social life. Drawing on in-depth interviews with fifteen participants, two mechanisms between offline questions of identity and online participation are uncovered. Those struggling with stigmatisation conceive of the forum as a tight-knit, homogeneous community providing online refuge, whereas those facing reflexive questions of identity regard the forum to be an open, heterogeneous place for debate functioning as a springboard to offline life. These findings indicate it is important to take experiences and understandings into account when studying the interrelationship between online and offline social life, and they inform the discussion of online forums as Goffmanian backstages.
|Number of pages||24|
|Publication status||Published - 2010|