We have a new paper out today in the journal of Culture, Health & Sexuality, titled ‘Social media use among bisexuals and pansexuals: connection, harassment and mental health’. This paper was led by the fabulous Rosie Nelson who joined Brady as a visiting PhD researcher at Monash from the University of Bristol in early 2019. It feels like a lifetime ago now, but this trip allowed Rosie to develop some of their international networks, work on their PhD, but also to work on a collaborative project with our Scrolling Beyond Binaries team – and this paper is the product of that collaboration.
Analysing survey data from 1,304 LGBTQ + young people in Australia collected in 2016, this paper considers key distinctions between the experiences of bisexual and pansexual participants, and lesbian and gay participants in relation to social media use and aspects of connection, harassment and mental health. Presenting quantitative data, illustrated by qualitative extracts, we found broad similarities in motivations for using social media and how participants connected to peers and communities. There were some statistically significant differences, however, in respondents’ motivations for using social media and who they connected with on these platforms. Importantly, bisexual and pansexual participants reported more negative experiences of harassment and exclusion across all major social media platforms when compared to their lesbian and gay peers. Bisexual and pansexual respondents also reported poorer mental health experiences. These findings speak to the different impacts of discrimination and oppression that young people experience in everyday life. There is a need for focused attention on bisexual and pansexual young people in academic, policy and youth-work domains. Young people will benefit from more substantial school-based education on LGBTQ + identities – beyond the experiences of gay and lesbian people – to ‘usualise’ varieties of difference in gender and sexual identity.
It was so wonderful to have Rosie bring a fresh perspective and new energy to our Scrolling Beyond Binaries project. Thank you Rosie for leading this paper!