Affective investments, queer archives, and lesbian breakups on YouTube


  • Kira Deshler University of Texas at Austin



Fan studies, Lesbian fandom, Queer grief, Queer women, YouTube fandom


YouTube, as both a video-sharing platform and a social media platform, has become a dynamic space for the proliferation of queer female fandom, including lesbian YouTube couples, around which fans congregate. Two specific YouTube couples, Shannon and Cammie, and Kaelyn and Lucy, both broke up in summer 2016. Their breakups, and the subsequent breakup videos, were met with emotionally intense responses from their fans. To investigate how both fans and the couples themselves invest in these relationships, I conducted a discourse analysis of the language the YouTubers use to speak to their fans as well as the ways in which fans express their connection to these videos in the comments section. The distinct features of this fandom are the result of the affordances of YouTube as a platform, the intensity of queer fandom investments, and the particular liveliness of the fan object. Fan investment in these couples is connected to fans' own sense of (queer) futurity. At the same time, these videos now circulate as monuments of queer melancholia, viewed as they are through the lens of grief or nostalgia.