Queer Digital Community Catalog
This catalog collects basic information and resources on LGBTQ-related online communities prior to 2010, particularly those from the so-called Web 1.0 period. Each catalog entry includes information on the group’s format, its approximate dates of activity, its audience and topical focus, and links to other materials discussing the group, such as editorial columns, personal essays, or archival materials.
One of the driving impulses for the creation of this catalog was to offer a starting place for research into early LGBTQ life online. As I found in my own research, simply knowing the name of a place or person could, in some cases, be key to my archival research. Beyond just its research utility, however, this catalog is also meant to preserve the memory, if not the content, of communities and groups whose names might otherwise be lost or forgotten.
Why a Catalog?
I’ve chosen to focus on a catalog, as opposed to an archive, for several reasons. Firstly, at its most basic level, an archive is focused on primary material—in this case, the content of posts. However, archiving for most online groups from the mid-1980s up to the late 1990s is often incomplete at best, so in many cases, there’s limited to no archival material available. Instead, what exists in many cases is secondary material, writing describing or reflecting on posters’ experiences with and in these spaces. The catalog, ideally, links these disparate materials together in order to give a slightly fuller picture of the online landscape at any given time.
Secondly, posters in early LGBTQ groups often wrote (sometimes in detail) about close and personal issues in their lives under the assumption that their posts would remain private within the group. Given this, I’ve designed the catalog to respect (to the best of my ability) posters’ initial expectation of privacy. Linked content has all been previously published in other venues, and any other detailed personal reflections submitted by users specifically for the catalog have been made public with their consent.
What Qualifies A Community For Inclusion?
There are no specific criteria determining inclusion in the QDCC. However, many of the communitites currently listed in the catalog have multiple references in contemporaneous periodicals, newsletters, web guides, or other LGBTQ-related informational websites. These sources are key for establishing not only the existence of a space, but its particular attributes.
On Audience Labels
All of the communities cataloged include descriptive metadata culled from various sources, including contemporaneous listings in print publications and online reference guides. However, the terminology used in archival sources does not always match current preferred terms. As has been discussed elsewhere, retroactively applying labels with which individuals or spaces might not have identified is a politically fraught act. In my metadata practices, then, I follow a policy similar to that of the Digital Transgender Archive: whenever possible, I use terminology included in contemporaneous decriptions. If terminology is not used or a detailed description is not available, I categorize using terminology derived from the archival reference.
Adding Communities to the Catalog
This catalog is by no means complete, and I'm always looking for new groups to add, if additional information is available. Please feel free to suggest a community for inclusion using this form, or email me directly at email@example.com.