Debating "Alternative" Gender Identities: The Online Discourse Triggered by 2014 Life Ball Advertising Posters

Irmgard Wetzstein, Brigitte Huber


The article examines an online discourse induced by two advertising posters created by photographer David LaChapelle for the Life Ball, an AIDS charity event in Vienna in 2014, depicting a nude transgender model. We consulted 1,897 posts on highly frequented Austrian online forums to explore and analyze the discourse’s organization, thematic and argumentative patterns, and contrary positions using the sociology-of-knowledge approach. Connected mainly to the “doing gender” perspective, the findings shed light on collective knowledge repertoires of “alternative” gender identities. We inter alia conclude that at least in Austria, transgender and gay people are framed physically rather than socially and indeed as alternative to the overall norm of gender duality and heterosexuality.


social media, online forum, online discourse, gender, gender identity, transgender, gay people, sociology of knowledge, advertising, Life Ball

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