A Spotlight on LGBT Studies in Video

Among our various streaming video services, The Graduate Center Library provides access to LGBT Studies in Video, which includes a wide array of documentary and independent films.

Because LGTBQ Studies is such an interdisciplinary field, and intertwined with many other fields of study, there are a wide variety of possible contexts for the films. “A Conversation with Gender Non-Conforming, Gender Non-Binary Youth” (2017), for one example, brings together perspectives on Psychology and gender in terms of “the centrality of language; intersectionality; the effects of white supremacy, misogyny, and transphobia; and the meaning of community.” Decades earlier, “Homoteens” (1993) offered a similar focus, in the form of five “autobiographical portraits” curated by filmmaker Joan Jubela.

Other offerings include: “You Don’t Know Dick: Courageous Hearts of Transsexual Men” (1997), “Enough Man” (2005) and “Swim Suit” (2006) each focusing on the unique pathways of transgender men, as they navigate the process of self-exploration, coming out, and the workplace.

The database is also replete with offerings that relate to Biography, and personal/cultural memory – “Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin” (2003), explores the Civil Rights movement through a focus on Rustin, posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom award for his ongoing activist work. “Swimming with Lesbians” (2009) focuses on the creation of The Western New York LGBT Archive by Madeline Davis, acclaimed co-author of Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold: The History of a Lesbian Community. Invoking the colloquial phrase “Gays have a past but no history,” the film underscores the deep and ongoing importance of a recorded LGBTQ history, paired with a strong public presence. “Hand on the Pulse” (2002) similarly explores the life of Joan Nestle, activist and co-founder of Brooklyn’s Lesbian Herstory Archive, the world’s first and largest collection of archival materials about lesbian lives.

LGBT Studies in Video also includes a few dynamic short films, such as “Dear Joan” (1999), an experimental four-minute ode to “that heroine of butch dykeness” and “now Lesbian-Day-Saint,” Joan of Arc. Many of these short films were originally screened only at LGTBQ film festivals, and now have the opportunity to be seen by a wider audience.

Also supported by a continued donation in the memory of Edward Carpenter (1844-1929), LGBT Thought & Culture is a collection of periodicals, books, and other materials that can be usefully paired with this collection.

About the Author

Elvis Bakaitis is currently the Head of Reference at the Mina Rees Library. They're also proud to serve on the University LGBTQ Council, and as a board member of CLAGS: The Center for LGBTQ Studies.