The LGBT Experience | Reference eReviews & E-Short Takes

There’s been a sea change in attitudes toward the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community in just the last couple of years, it seems, although the pace of that change probably still appears much more plodding to members of that community than to observers. While contemporary American society looks to be adjusting fairly quickly to the proliferation of gay people on TV, in politics, sports, the military, and in the engagement announcements pages of their local newspapers, it’s very satisfying to be part of a profession that’s been on board with these concepts for decades. Libraries have always been sanctuaries for people and ideas whose time has not yet come (even if they are long overdue) and as librarians we have always been committed to equipping those operating outside the mainstream with the resources they need to make their voices heard.

In this column, we examine the resources that deliver—via text and film—archival history, scholarly research, and popular thought relating to the LGBT experience in all its variations.




Content For more than four decades, ­GenderWatch—originally published by Softline—has been the premiere database for the specialized and once very elusive literature on and gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender research. While nearly half of the titles indexed and abstracted here are scholarly journals, GenderWatch also provides a much broader array of sources, including national and regional magazines, newspapers, newsletters, books, conference proceedings, trade journals, dissertations, ephemera, and reports from a mix of governmental and non-governmental agencies.

Radicals, academics, grassroots activists, and government officials all have a voice in the 200,000-plus articles made accessible in full text here. Subject coverage, broadly speaking, includes women’s studies, the women’s movement, and femininity; men’s studies and masculinity; gender studies and gender differences; equity; identity; changing gender roles; and the transgendered community.

As of June 14, 2014, there were 325 items on the title list—250 of them in full text. Classic titles such as Off Our Backs, Feminist Studies, and The Advocate are all here, along with high-circulation newsstand fixtures such as OUT and Curve, but a number of other popular titles—Instinct Magazine, Pink Magazine, and The San Francisco Bay Times—are absent. There are several law journals and many international publications as well. Coverage begins in 1970 and continues to the present. There is an online thesaurus, but it is not specific to GenderWatch.

USABILITY At the standard ProQuest starting page for GenderWatch, we did a basic search on “defense of marriage act” OR doma and got a total of 1,276 hits. (Just 18 records were from 1996 when the act became law, compared to 263 last year when the floodgates on marriage equality flew open and the law was declared unconstitutional.) Nearly 60 percent of the hits on the results list are from newspapers, about 300 are magazine articles, and roughly 200 are from scholarly journals. Eight of the items are dissertations, and while at first glance this would seem to be a teasing reminder that ProQuest is in the business of selling dissertations, in fact, all eight of the dissertations are available in full text. This alone makes GenderWatch a very appealing resource for academic gender studies programs.

The ProQuest advanced search option gives the researcher a little more space for entering search terms, but also presents the option of customizing the search strategy somewhat by selecting a broad subject area to search, and by offering source type and document type limits. We selected the subject area “Health & Medicine,” entered “conversion therapy” into the search template, clicked scholarly journals as the source type, and got a results list with 56 items.

The ProQuest GenderWatch interface also prompts the researcher to take advantage of its related searches capability. We searched for the term two spirit* and were invited, subtly, to also explore information on “Gays and Lesbians AND Native Americans.” This is a new search, however, and not a modification of the original two spirit* search. That process—i.e., narrowing a search strategy to make it more focused—is achieved by means of facets that appear along the right side of the search results screen. Using these terms, the researcher may limit by availability of full text, peer-reviewed journals, source, publication title, document type subject, classification, company/organization, location, person, language, and/or publication date.

PRICING Pricing for GenderWatch varies based on a number of factors including FTE. A university library serving an FTE of 15,000 could expect to pay about $5,000 for an annual subscription.

VERDICT The contribution that ­GenderWatch makes, and it’s an important one, is that it actually delivers both archival and current content that is otherwise difficult to track down. The material that is made available here is not the sort of thing that drifts onto the Internet where a conscientious researcher would have some hope of retrieving it, and it’s also not the type of material that most libraries, even those with a relatively fearless approach to collection development, tended to acquire 40 years ago.

GenderWatch—with its inclusion of peer-reviewed scholarship and the unique offering of selected dissertations in full text—has a place in any academic institution offering a gender studies program, but the wide-range, distinct, nonacademic LGBT sources included make it equally well suited for public library settings, too.

LGBT Studies in Video

Alexander Street Press;


CONTENT Starting with Michael, a classic 1924 German silent film directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer (who released The Passion of Joan of Arc just a few years later), and continuing through the star-studded The Out List, which aired on HBO in 2013, LGBT Studies in Video from Alexander Street Press surveys the universe of LGBT people. It also depicts the cultural evolution of the LGBT community and the political progress (and setbacks) it has experienced over time. The collection features acclaimed documentaries, interviews, archival footage, and thoughtfully selected feature films exploring LGBT history, culture, legal rights, marriage equality, family life, health, transgender issues, religious perspectives, and the international LGBT experience.

Alexander Street’s partnership with ­Frameline, producers of the longest running LGBT film festival, lends considerable credibility (as well as 206 historically significant titles) to this product. Additional content—selected by the company’s editors in consultation with a number of subject matter specialists—comes from such producers as A&E Television Network, Filmakers Library, Entertainment One, Fanlight Productions, First Run Features, Icarus Films, Kino International, and Zeitgeist Films. Alexander Street is currently negotiating with a number of other potential partners.

As of mid-June 2014, the collection included 196 documentaries, 92 performances, 13 animated videos, and 11 biographies for a total of 312 titles. Ultimately, the aim is to include some 500 hours of streamed video content and to offer a more expansive range of international films, independent films, and festival-winners.

Libraries interested in LGBT Studies in Video might also want to take a look at another Alexander Street offering, the primary source database LGBT Thought and Culture (LJ 11/1/13).

USABILITY The straightforward LGBT Studies in Video homepage features a quick-search box, the ability to browse by subject, people discussed, or a number of bibliographic fields (e.g., title, series, content type, discipline, subject, organization, and place name), and a link to advanced search mode. Several featured titles and a selection of newly added video content are displayed here as well.

An array of search boxes make up the advanced search screen, enabling the user to focus the search on words anywhere, full text/transcript, title and series, author/creator, or subject. Additional options include limiting by content type, publisher/archive, date, and place of publication. These various fields can be searched in combination at the user’s discretion, and the results may be sorted by relevance, title, or chronological order.

Searching for “religion AND homophobia” produced a results list of 39 items, headed by Stop the Church, directed by ­Robert Hilfert, with the specified keywords coming from the subject, keywords, and specialized area of interest fields, as well as from the transcripts.

Selecting ACT UP from the organizations-discussed index in advanced search mode returned a list of four videos. Some expected search features are not here, however. Searched as a keyword, the phrase “act up” produces the same results as it does when typed without quotation marks. An advanced search for two spirit, with the content type biography checked, resulted in seven hits, but a look at the highlighted term in the excerpts from the transcripts shows that only two were relevant.

The help area of LGBT Studies in Video indicates that there is a known issue with the new platform in that Boolean searching with AND works but search strategies that use OR and NOT will not return “appropriate results.”

Transcripts of the narratives are synchronized with the video as it plays, with the text highlighted as it is spoken. Transcripts, liner notes, and their associated bibliographic data are all searchable, and the transcripts are available as stand-alone files.

Navigating to a particular scene within the video is facilitated by the visual table of contents option, which gives the user a visual cue to where they are in the presentation. The screen images are pretty tiny, however, which compromises the effectiveness of this feature to some extent.

Once individual users register, they may create, edit, annotate, and share clips and playlists. An embeddable video player permits instructors to incorporate video content into secure websites or deliver it via course management systems.

Licensing terms include permissions for in-class, campus-wide, and remote-access viewing by authorized users.

PRICING Alexander Street offers LGBT Studies in Video as an annual subscription or a onetime purchase of perpetual rights. The list price for a subscription is $4,115, although with discounts for smaller institutions with low budgets and a low FTE, the actual price could run as low as $1,172. A onetime purchase of perpetual rights ranges from $12,500 to $40,000 depending on budget and FTE, with annual access fees ranging accordingly from $125 to $500. Additional discounts may also be available via consortia memberships. Trials are available.

VERDICT While LGBT Studies in Video clearly has its preservationist side, there is a distinctly contemporary flavor here, too, with 11 titles having publication dates of 2012 and 2013. Interdisciplinary by design, this extraordinary collection examines the LGBT experience from an incredible range of academic perspectives—sociology, anthropology, psychology, counseling, history, political science, gender studies, cultural studies, and religious studies. That this material can be streamed to anyone who needs to view it and that it’s a collection that would be effortless to maintain compared to a library comprised of DVDs and aging VHS tapes argues strongly in its favor as well.

LGBT Life with Full Text

EBSCO Publishing;


CONTENT Created as a cooperative effort between ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archive and the Lesbian Herstory Archives of the Lesbian Herstory Education Foundation (see below), LGBT Life with Full Text contains all the comprehensive indexing and abstract coverage from more than 200 journals and more than 360 Abstracted and Indexed Books and Reference Works available in EBSCO’s LGBT Life database. It also offers the added value of full text from more than 130 of the most key and historically significant LGBT journals, magazines, and regional newspapers, and 170 full-text monographs and books. The database includes a specialized thesaurus of more than 7,500 LGBT terms used to enhance the indexing.

Among the disciplines covered are civil liberties, culture, employment, family, politics, and more. Many—as with other EBSCO ­Research Databases—searchable cited references are available.

Core journals include Achieve (formerly GMHC Treatment Issues); The Advocate; Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide; Gay Parent Magazine; Girlfriends; GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian & Gay Studies; James White Review; ISNA News; Journal of Gay and Lesbian Mental Health; Lesbian Tide; New York Blade; ONE; and White Crane. Books such as Classics in Lesbian Studies; Gay Science: The Ethics of Sexual Orientation Research; Gay Culture in America; Handbook of Research with Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Populations; Lesbian Culture: An Anthology; Policing Public Sex; and Queer Theory & Social Change illustrate the range of monographic content. Additionally, all relevant bibliographic data from the National Information Services Corporation’s (NISC) Sexual Diversity ­Studies is also included. Coverage is from the 1950s to the present.

Now part of the University of Southern California, ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives is the largest repository of LGBTQ materials in the world, and includes the papers of numerous West Coast gay activists. The Lesbian Herstory Archives has the world’s largest collection of materials by and about lesbians, with information on more than 1,500 organizations, 1,300 periodical titles, and more than 11,000 books.

USABILITY LGBT Life with Full Text can be cross-searched seamlessly with other subscribed EBSCO databases that fall within a gender or LGBT studies subject search, such as Alternative Press Index and Alternative Press Index Archive or Gender Studies Database. Users can initiate a basic search or opt for advanced, with all typical limit features associated with EBSCO’s interface.

We started with a browse of the LGBT thesaurus, since this is unique to the database, and entered DADT (Don’t Ask Don’t Tell) into the search box to find articles regarding the government’s policy on gays in the military. Options include “Term Begins With,” “Term Contains,” or “Relevancy Ranked.” The browse list for our initial query included the direction, “DADT (Military policy) Use DON’T Ask, Don’t Tell (Military policy).” Selecting the official term, we retrieved 1,248 records (40 peer reviewed—22 of which included cited references). Current articles include “Policy and Paradox: Grounded Theory at the Moment of DADT Repeal,” “The Rise and Fall of DADT,” and “A Network Evaluation of Attitudes Toward Gays and Lesbians Among U.S. Military Cadets.” “Exploding” the term displays broader terms such as GAY military personnelUnited StatesGovernment policy and related and used-for terms.

Limiting to books revealed chapters from a variety of sources including The Lesbian and Gay Movements: Assimilation or Liberation?; LGBT History, 1988-1992; The Handbook of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Public Health; and Gay & Gray.

Searchers may also browse 18 indexes, such as all text, author-supplied keywords, document type (speech, poem, short story, letter, recipe, etc.), people, and reviews and products, to select terms and add them into the search strategy.

EBSCO includes a growing number of ebooks that are freely available to subscribers and can also be added to a particular query for further results. In addition, institutions can complement their LGBTQ offerings with the purchase of ebook subject sets, such as Contemporary Social Issues and Women’s Studies.

Users can create personal accounts to save preferences, organize citations with folders, share folders, save and retrieve search histories, and create email alerts and/or RSS feeds.

PRICING Pricing is based on a variety of factors including FTE, existing EBSCO databases, consortium agreements and/or buying groups. Contact EBSCO Publishing for a customized quotation for your specific institution. Free trials are available.

VERDICT Produced with the support of two of the foremost gay and lesbian archival organizations, LGBT Life with Full Text affords users bibliographic access and full text to a rich and varied collection of journals, books, and reference works related to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and transsexual issues. Where else can you get recipes from the Gay Times along with results of original empirical studies from Sex Roles or Journal of Lesbian Studies? With its alternative and regional publications and comprehensive coverage of historically significant academic sources, this resource is top of the list for supporting a wide range of disciplines, including athletics, health, law, family, religion, and civil liberties.

Gender Studies Database (GSD)

EBSCO Publishing;


CONTENT Gender Studies Database (GSD) combines the NISC’s Women’s Studies International and Men’s Studies databases with coverage of sexual diversity issues. Close to one million records from Medline, NISC’s Child Development & Adolescent Studies, as well as Family & Society Studies Worldwide databases are also indexed. Links to selected freely available and indexed full-text articles and documents from the web provide access to content such as in-depth reports from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and newspaper articles from a variety of sources including the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Green Left Weekly.

Source documents include books and book chapters, working papers, academic and professional journals, government reports, magazines, newspapers, health reports, conference papers, theses, and dissertations.

A sampling of academic and alternative titles from respected publishers—including Elsevier, Emerald Group, Oxford University Press, Routledge, SAGE, Springer, and Wiley-Blackwell—finds a mix of prominent and distinct materials such as The Advocate; Gender Issues; GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian & Gay Studies; International Journal of Transgenderism; Journal of Bisexuality; Journal of Gay & Lesbian Issues In Education; Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services; Mother Jones; Off Our Backs; and Transgender Tapestry. Coverage spans generally from 1972 to the present, though some materials have earlier publication dates.

USABILITY As mentioned in the review of LGBT Life with Full Text, all subscribed EBSCOhost research databases can be cross-searched to broaden and/or strengthen a user’s topic and query approach, and institutions can complement their LGBTQ offerings with the purchase of ebook subject sets. All the tools, features, and functionality of the interface, as previously detailed, are available to patrons.

A basic search for the general phrase “discrimination in education” retrieved 743 records (441 from academic journals), with a mix of subject matter from publications such as The Advocate, Chronicle of Higher Education, and Journal of LGBT Youth. We even found a citation dating back to an 1893 issue of Journal of Education. Articles included “Transgender Individuals’ Access to College Housing and Bathrooms,” “Doing the Public’s Business: Florida’s Purge of Gay and Lesbian Teachers, 1959–1964,” and “Discrimination Against Gay Men, Lesbians, and Transgender People Working in Education.”

Advanced mode offers familiar EBSCOhost limiters, among them 34 document types (editorial, obituary, reference entry, short story, table of contents, etc.) with 29 publication types (anthology, ephemera, grey literature, poster, program, etc.) and 42 languages. Articles include, “Oft gey ikh vi hinter a shleyer” (Yiddish), “Meta(na)morfoses lésbicas em Cassandra Rios” (Portuguese), and “Queer Romance? Romantische Liebe in den biographischen Erzählungen von westdeutschen Lesben und Schwulen” (German).

In addition to the standard export options, documents can be listened to and users can download the mp3 files.

PRICING Pricing is based on a variety of factors including FTE, existing EBSCO databases, consortium agreements and/or buying groups.

VERDICT Gender Studies Database provides access to a wide range of material from the scholarly publication Journal of Lesbian Studies to content from the political commentary and criticism website The Backlash! ­Beneficial for undergraduate research—with its breadth and depth of international coverage, this offering by itself (or even better paired with LGBT Life with Full Text) is an excellent choice for libraries looking to support LGBTQ curricular studies and programs from a global perspective.

Archives Unbound: Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin; Beyond the Daughters of Bilitis

Gale Cengage;


One of the topically focused digital collections included in Gale’s Archives Unbound, this file includes a wide range of primary material documenting the decades of political work and leadership of the LGBT and women’s rights movement in San Francisco and nationally that Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin are famous for, including their 1955 founding of the first U.S. lesbian rights organization, the Daughters of Bilitis, as a secret sorority.

Included are minutes, correspondence, press clippings, manuscripts, and notes related to the women’s work with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the San Francisco Coalition for Human Rights, the Commission on Crime Control and Violence Protection, the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality, the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women, and the San Francisco Human Rights Commission. The collection also has content gathered from their research and promotion of their renowned book on domestic violence, Battered Wives. Coverage is from 1955 through 1984.

Contemporary Women’s Issues (CWI)

Gale Cengage;

Contemporary Women’s Issues (CWI), a multidisciplinary and global full-text database, brings together relevant content from mainstream periodicals, “gray” literature, and alternative publications—with a focus on vital concerns and events that influence women’s lives in more than 190 countries.

With documents from journals; news­letters, and pamphlets from grassroots social and political groups; research reports from nonprofit organizations, government, and international agencies, topics include human rights and sexuality, gender equity, lesbian and gay studies, sex roles and sex differences, and more. Content contains reviews, speeches, stories, and biographies. Coverage extends from 1992 to the present, with titles from more than 2,200 sources such as Columbia Journal of Gender & Law, Herizons, Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide, Journal of Homosexuality, and Off Our Backs.

Gale Virtual Reference Library (GVRL)

Gale Cengage;

Reference works such as the Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender; Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History in America; Gay Marriage; Novelists with Gay and Lesbian Themes; Encyclopedia of Gay and Lesbian Popular Culture; Counseling LGBTI Clients; and Queer America: A GLBT History of the 20th Century represent a sampling of LGBT- themed subject matter on the Gale Virtual Reference Library (GVRL) ebook platform.

With more than 11,000 titles, organized for academic, government and special, K-12, and public libraries, users can cross-search an institution’s GVRL collection of ebooks with Gale’s PowerSearch and other Gale digital resources. Several purchase models including subject collections are options for institutions, and a usage-driven acquisition model for all Gale imprints (2,000-plus titles) is now available as well.

The Gerritsen Collection of Aletta H. Jacobs

ProQuest, LLC;

Publicized as “the greatest single source for the study of women’s history in the world,” the Gerritsen Collection is a full-text collection of books, pamphlets, reports, and periodicals. Documenting “the evolution of feminist consciousness and women’s rights,” materials cover the course of four centuries and include 15 languages, with publications from Europe, the United States, the UK, Canada, and New Zealand. The diverse collection consists of two segments: the Periodical Series and the Monograph Language Series, with full-image runs from nearly 265 periodical titles and almost 4,500 monographs, government publications, pamphlets, and reports. The material was first available on microform and has been digitized to provide more than two million page images that accurately reproduce the original printed works online.

LGBT Thought and Culture

Alexander Street Press;


LGBT Thought and Culture is a growing online resource that encompasses key books, periodicals, and archival materials documenting LGBT political, social, and cultural movements from the early 20th century to the present. Memoirs, letters, biographies, speeches, interviews, brochures, poetry, essays, and works of fiction illustrate the personal lives of lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual people and the community. A sampling of archival and publisher collections include Radclyffe Hall Scrapbooks, Harry Benjamin Collection, Lambda Publications, and Pink Triangle Press. Users can also access primary documents from major organizations such as ACT UP and the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association. For those who own the LGBT Studies in Video, the two collections are cross-searchable through a single interface.

Women’s Studies, Gender, and Sexuality (WSGS) LGBT Studies

Project Muse;

Offering a variety of subscription packages and individual journal title subscriptions, LGBT Studies falls within the broad “Research Area” of Women’s Studies, Gender, and Sexuality (WSGS) on the Project Muse platform. Two of the 28 WSGS scholarly journal titles are specifically designated LGBT Studies—GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, with coverage dating back to 2000, and a recent 2013 addition, QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking. Muse now offers books, available for purchase in broad collections to institutions, and is partnering with third-party publishers to facilitate individual title selections on the Muse platform. Books within the LGBT Studies include 1960s Gay Pulp Fiction, Farm Boys: Lives of Gay Men from the Rural Midwest, Gay Rights at the Ballot Box, and God Hates Fags: The Rhetorics of Religious Violence.

This article was published in Library Journal's July 1, 2014 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.



  1. goodrich45 says:

    “Libraries have always been sanctuaries for people and ideas whose time has not yet come (even if they are long overdue) and as librarians we have always been committed to equipping those operating outside the mainstream with the resources they need to make their voices heard”
    I don’t agree