If you’re not quite sure what you’re looking for, you can browse relevant areas in the library stacks. Books are cataloged with Dewey Decimal call numbers (usually in public libraries) or Library of Congress call numbers (usually in academic libraries). Try these call number ranges:
- 306.76—Sexual orientation, transgenderism, intersexuality
- 306.77—Sexual & related practices
- 306.848—Same-sex marriage
Library of Congress:
- HQ75-76.8—Homosexuality. Lesbianism
- HQ1075-1075.5—Sex role
Note: You may have noticed that some of these terms are worded or organized in a somewhat offensive way- for example, “intersexuality” is categorized under “diseases”, and the term “homosexuality” was chosen, rather than “gay”. Unfortunately, official terms are sometimes outdated and take a long time to revise to current inclusive language.
You can also search a library’s online catalog. Find books and other materials in libraries near you in the WorldCat catalog, or go directly to your local public or academic library catalog. For a more targeted search, click on “advanced search” and select “subject” as your search element. Subject headings are the standardized words and phrases that librarians use to catalog books and other materials. They are different from keywords. You can browse lists of subject headings at the Library of Congress Subject Headings site. Just select “LC Subject Headings” and type in a keyword to find relevant subject headings. I have found the following subject headings particularly helpful:
- Ball culture (Gay culture).
- Coming out (sexual orientation).
- Drag balls.
- Gay and lesbian studies.
- Gay culture.
- Gay liberation movement.
- Gay rights.
- Gender identity.
- Lesbian culture.
- Lesbian feminism.
- Lesbian mothers.
- Outing (sexual orientation).
- Queer theory.
- Same sex marriage.
- Sex role.
- Sexual minorities.
- Transgender people.
To locate articles, search academic databases using the subject headings in the center column. You can access many databases through academic institutions if you are a student or staff member, or through your public library. Here are some useful databases:
- Academic Search Premier: This multi-disciplinary database includes a great deal of social sciences publications, with full-text access to many peer-reviewed articles.
- Alternative Press Index: This is a database of radical journals, newspapers, and magazines from 1991 to the present. Earlier coverage is provided in the Alternative Press Archive.
- GenderWatch: This database contains scholarly articles, gray literature, and popular articles from 1970 to the present on topics including gender identity, feminism, gender roles, the trans* community, and LGBTQ studies.
- JSTOR: This database contains older (at least 2-5 years) issues of core scholarly journals, including social sciences and humanities.
- Project Muse: This database contains full-text peer-reviewed journal articles from scholarly publishers. Topics include history, cultural studies, gender studies, and social sciences.
- Social Sciences Full Text (H.W. Wilson): This database contains over 625 social science periodicals, with access to full-text articles from 1983 to the present.
Research tips written by Charlie McNabb and last updated 12/30/2013.