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LGBTQA Section

The LGBTQA Section exists to provide professional support for members of the American Folklore Society who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or otherwise queer. The Section also encourages research into specific aspects of LGBTQ culture and promotes the study of how LGBTQ issues are dynamically interrelated with the folk expressions of the greater human community. The Section serves as a folklore resource to researchers and teachers and maintains an open dialogue with academic and public sector folklore programs on issues of mutual interest and concern. Allies are also encouraged to join this section and welcome participate in its activities.

Studies of LGBTQ culture are important to the advancement of folklore as an academic discipline and to the well being of the American Folklore Society. The LGBTQA Section was organized in an era of LGBTQ academic stigma and cultural invisibility. It is therefore committed to raising awareness of LGBTQ cultural expression and research. The Section seeks to identify issues that our members are facing now and have faced in the past, while keeping abreast of LGBTQ-related trends and attitudes in an ever-changing society. We will post an up-to-date bibliography of LGBTQ folklore/folklife scholarship, including an inventory of LGBTQ papers delivered at AFS over the past three decades, to this page in the near future.

During the AFS annual meeting the Section holds an annual meeting to conduct Section business, promote communication among members, and discuss topics of importance including career issues, research opportunities, and assessments of the field in relation to LGBTQ expressions. All are welcome at the meeting.

click here to join the online section free of charge, then join our Facebook page and visit the private section page for more information. Click here to pay section dues.



Meredith McGriff (

Samuel Buelow (

Section Student Prize

The Joseph Goodwin Queer Folkloristics Student Paper Prize will be presented each year to an undergraduate or graduate student in acknowledgement of a paper or production that demonstrates outstanding work on either 1) ethnographic work with a specific LGBTQIA+ group or aspect of vernacular culture, 2) the intersection of queer theory and folkloristics, or 3) a critical analysis of genders and sexualities more broadly defined. Submissions for the 2018 prize are due on September 21, 2018.

To be eligible for consideration in 2018, the work must have been produced since June 2017 and while the author was enrolled as a graduate or undergraduate student.  Papers should not exceed 15,000 words (including bibliography and notes), should be in 11 or 12 point font, and should be in Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx) format.  The title of the paper must appear in the document, but the author’s name should not.  References to previous works by the author should be replaced by ****.  Visual or audio media should not exceed 60 minutes.  If it is possible to redact the contestant’s name/identity from audio or visual media, please do. 

The work should be sent via email to LGBTQA section convener Meredith McGriff at  The heading of the email should read “Joseph Goodwin Queer Folkloristics Student Paper Prize” and the text of the email should include your name, the name of the paper, department and school attended when the paper was written, stage of program when the paper was written, your address, your telephone number, and your email address.  Attach the paper to the email, or for audio or video submissions, send a link to where the submission can be found online.  You do not need to have been a member of the AFS LGBTQA section when the paper was written, but do need to be an active member of the society and the section at the time you submit your application.   No previously published papers will be accepted.

Papers will be judged on their ability to contribute to the breadth and/or depth of the field of queer folkloristics and on engagement with relevant preexisting literature and theory both inside and outside of folkloristics. 

Joseph Goodwin is the author of More Man Than You'll Ever Be: Gay Folklore and Acculturation in Middle America (Indiana University Press 1989). He co-founded the American Folklore Society’s LGBTQA section.  He passed away in November 2015.


In past years, the Section organized a student prize in order to encourage research and improve scholarship. The prize was awarded to the best undergraduate or graduate student paper or production on LGBTQ traditional vernacular culture and/or on Queer theory and folklore. The Section awarded Memorial University of Newfoundland PhD candidate Sarah J. Moore its 2006 LGBTQ Student Folklore Prize for her study, "Coming Out Stories: Personal Experience Narratives in the Gay and Lesbian Community."

Section Position Statement on Marriage

Faculty and students in the LGBTQA section have observed with keen interest the current political debate concerning gay marriage. Enacted across cultures in many ways, marriage is a rich subject for interdisciplinary humanities and social sciences, including folklore. A complex gender, family, community, and often spiritual transaction, marriage lends itself to folklore study as a rite of passage involving variable customs and beliefs. Humans continue to ask why marriage exists, how to perform it, and who is or is not allowed to participate. The study of marriage is a basis for people to understand others different from themselves. Legislative and other political expressions of intolerance for LGBTQ unions/marriages in the U.S. and elsewhere prevent significant numbers of citizens from acquiring legal recognition of unions and receiving associated social, political, and economic benefits. This includes members of the AFS.

Members of the American Folklore Society's LGBTQA Section therefore 1) urge scholars, particularly those within AFS, to continue their efforts to understand marriage inclusively, critically, and respectfully, in all its forms, especially forms emergent in LGBTQ communities, and 2) object to all forms of exclusion which deny LGBTQ persons the full range of human rights and privileges, legal protections, and economic benefits available to other persons in legalized domestic partnerships.

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