Coming Out Maps by Jon Heggestad
In the spring of 2020, I was in grad school and at work on a large-scale analysis of LGBTQ+ coming out videos that had been posted on YouTube. I'd recently heard another scholar refer to these videos as a "genre," and with this in mind, I wanted to understand what patterns and conventions we might be able to observe within this trend. One of the first things I discovered was that YouTube uniquely offers a rhetorical platform not only for LGBTQ+ folks, but for the audience of their speech acts as well. I ended up scraping the hundreds of thousands of comments from fifty of the top coming out videos that had been uploaded at that time. I sifted through this data using AntConc (a text-mining concordance software) to highlight the top fifty words that appeared in the comment sections of each video. I then visualized the frequency of these terms by building treemaps in Excel.
Upon submitting my work for publication, the reviewers claimed that the visualizations added nothing new to scholarship on queer folks and coming out. I was surprised, as the visualizations were the focus of my study.
Here, you can find all fifty treemaps. The text within these figures is so small as to be unreadable although I've enlarged the emojis that appeared in the results as they add both a visually appealing dynamic and insight about how much viewers have come to rely on emojis in order to communicate thoughts and emotions over the past ten years. The treemaps are presented in chronological order (reading from left to right and from top to bottom), spanning from 2012 to 2019. The darker shades of gray indicating a greater number of comments in response to the videos, which provides additional takeaways; for example, the summer of 2019 produced a number of popular uploads.
The five blank spaces indicate videos that received extremely high numbers of views during this time, and so I felt I should include them, despite their comments being disabled by their creators.