Honours Interview: Gloria Moon

Gloria (Ye Jin) Moon recently graduated from Simon Fraser University in June of 2023 with a BA in Sociology and a Certificate in Social Justice, and completed her honours project under the supervision of Dr. Lindsey A. Freeman.

Her project explores how neuroqueer (neurodivergent and queer) individuals engage in the process of world-making by collectively queering a space for themselves on TikTok through the symbolic practices of neuroqueering. We interviewed Gloria to know more about her project and to ask about her experience in the honours program.

What is your honours project about? 

My honours thesis explored how neuroqueer (neurodivergent and queer) individuals engage in the process of world-making by collectively queering a space for themselves on TikTok through the symbolic practices of neuroqueering. Through my research, I found that by engaging in these practices, neuroqueer individuals practice autonomy to produce their own versions of neurodivergent representation and to be unapologetically themselves. In sharing their anecdotes, this community embody their neuroqueerness through the affirmations derived from sharing their experiences online.

Upon analyzing neuroqueer practices, I argued for research to move beyond the quantification of neurodivergent research and push towards future studies that work in collaboration with the neuroqueer community in dismantling the exclusionary structures derived from exclusive knowledge production. It is through this collaboration where we can move towards a more reparative future.

How did you decide to study neuroqueering? What sparked your interest in it?

For many neuroqueer folks, their realities are often dismissed, invalidated, and misrepresented under Western society’s heteronormative and neuronormative systems. Inspired by the feminist, queer, and antiracist scholars before me, I employed an intersectional feminist perspective of reflexivity. As Sara Ahmed states in Queer Phenomenology, “it matters how we arrive at the places we do.” As a first-generation immigrant, queer, neurodivergent, woman of colour, I have had my fair share of existing within exclusionary structures. Referring to Ahmed’s idea of queer phenomenology, the emotions derived from my lived experiences have oriented me towards this topic, where the phenomenological model of emotional intentionality has moved me towards the object of neuroqueering. As I proceed in my reparative journey of healing, I look towards the neuroqueer future. Thus, my positionality in this study is one that sought to highlight the neuroqueer practices of others while also offering an autotheoretical perspective of my own lived understandings of being neuroqueer.

What skills have you developed or strengthened through being in the honours program?

Being in the honours program required a great deal of self-discipline, time management, and motivation. From having to create my own deadlines to actually meeting them, I improved my abilities of managing my time, breaking tasks down, and setting more realistic schedules. Similarly, I strengthened the research skills and knowledge learned throughout my undergraduate courses as I was finally able to apply and practice them. In addition, my confidence in writing in an unconventional academic style strengthened and I wish to continue practicing this style. 

What challenges did you face? What was the most difficult obstacle you had to overcome?

Dealing with self-doubt was a challenge that I struggled to overcome throughout my project. Having to self-direct an entire project in a short span of three months was not easy to conceptualize during my research period. It easily became overwhelming and I found myself falling deeper and deeper into an endless pit of reading and saving relevant research papers until my browser had over 70 tabs open. I never felt ready enough to just sit down and begin the actual writing process. However, I was so blessed to be held together by Dr. Lindsey Freeman's tender support, who constantly reminded me of my love for words and helped manage my self-doubt. 

What was it like working with your faculty supervisor, Dr. Lindsey A. Freeman, on your project?

Thinking alongside Dr. Lindsey Freeman is an experience I will cherish forever. During this semester, I was also taking a class with Dr. Freeman. Initially, I was worried about whether I would be able to handle the workload from taking a class, doing my honours thesis, all while working two jobs. However, taking Dr. Freeman's class was nothing but beneficial to my honours thesis experience and project. Through her class, I was introduced to many thinkers that inspired parts of my thesis, and it allowed me to practice writing with Dr. Freeman. Overall, I experienced both academic growth and self-confidence while working on my project, and I cannot thank Dr. Lindsey Freeman enough. 

How does your project relate to your future career and/or educational goals?

During the research process, I found myself being drawn to write using a reparative reading perspective. Upon doing so, I realized that I wanted to continue working towards a reparative future for the neuroqueer community. This experience impacted my future by amplifying my desire to work alongside the community, either through knowledge production in academia or providing a sociological and neuroqueer perspective within the area of counselling psychology.