"We Cried on Each Other's Shoulders": How LGBTQ+ Individuals Experience Social Support in Social Virtual Reality

Extensive HCI research has investigated how to prevent and mitigate harassment in virtual spaces, particularly by leveraging human-based and Artificial Intelligence-based moderation. However, social Virtual Reality constitutes a novel social space that faces both new harassment challenges and a lack of consensus on how moderation should be approached in this context to address such harassment.
Led the project; brainstormed the framing and research questions; analyzed the data; wrote manuscripts

Lingyuan Li, Guo Freeman, Kelsea Schulenberg, & Dane Acena (2023) (Accepted) "We Cried on Each Other's Shoulders": How LGBTQ+ Individuals Experience Social Support in Social Virtual Reality. CHI 2023
Research Questions
RQ1: What types of social support have LGBTQ+ users experienced in social VR?
QR2: How do LGBTQ+ individuals leverage unique social VR features to actually seek and experience
such social support?
29 semi-structured interviews
In-depth qualitative analysis: thematic analysis
① Network support and emotional support for building a safe LGBTQ+ community in social VR
② Informational support for guiding LGBTQ+ individuals’ online and offline lives
③ Esteem support for self-improvement through experimenting and affirming LGBTQ+ identity and experiences with others.
① Creating a sense of co-presence similar to face-to-face interaction despite being online
② Simulating physical behaviors to demonstrate embodied support for LGBTQ+ individuals
③ Imitating offline LGBTQ+ centered events in a natural and immersive way
First, we expand the growing body of literature on online social support for LGBTQ+ individuals by providing one of the first empirical evidence of the specific types of social support LGBTQ+ users have experienced in social VR, a novel online social space, and how exactly they seek and experience such support in more nuanced ways using this new technology. 
Second, our in-depth investigation is not only important for further unpacking the nuanced ways in which new technology continues to impact marginalized tech users’, such as LGBTQ+ users’, unique online social experiences but also is critical for HCI’s key agenda on designing more inclusive and supportive technologies in the future. 
Back to Top