#GaysOverCOVID: The Social Drama of LGBTQ Representation on Instagram

Tyler Quick


This article provides a descriptive, multiperspectival account of #GaysOverCOVID, what the late anthropologist Victor Turner termed a “social drama” featuring gay Instagram influencers behaving in a manner that, according to their critics, poorly represents the gay community. Building on other social media scholars’ theorization of the influencer as a kind of representational laborer, this article examines the various “representational imperatives” to which Instagays, Instagram influencers who specialize in homoerotic self-portraiture, were subjected from various publics during the COVID-19 pandemic. Drawing from two large data sets, collected during a lengthy participant observation of “gay Instagram,” I endeavor to describe in visual and empirical terms the discursive construction of a public figure. I conclude by examining the impact this “social drama” has on LGBTQ representational politics.


Instagram, social media influencer, representation, digital ethnography, social drama, COVID-19, identity politics

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