In this paper I examine YouTube “coming out” videos posted by Russian LGBT YouTubers in order to understand the narrative features that they share, such as when someone first came to understand their sexual orientation, how others around them have treated them, as well as their relationships with family, friends, and classmates. Here I use data scraping and coding to categorize videos scraped from YouTube based on thematic content, identity labels, types of representation, and other contextual information. I also look at the particularities of the videos that connect them to larger debates about LGBT rights in Russia, including the threat of prosecution under the infamous “gay propaganda” legislation. Finally, I look to the case study of YouTuber Zhenya Svetski to analyze how his coming out narrative reflects his social existence and experiences of homophobia, as well as the visual and rhetorical strategies he employs in his coming out video.

Image credit: Photo by Leon Bublitz on Unsplash

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