The LGBTQIA+ Section exists to provide professional support for members of the American Folklore Society who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or otherwise queer. Allies are also encouraged to join this section and welcome participate in its activities. The Section encourages research into specific aspects of LGBTQIA+ culture and promotes the study of how LGBTQIA+ 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. 

Studies of LGBTQIA+ culture are important to the advancement of folklore as an academic discipline and to the well being of the American Folklore Society. The LGBTQIA+ Section was organized in an era of LGBTQIA+ academic stigma and cultural invisibility. It is therefore committed to raising awareness of LGBTQIA+ 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 LGBTQIA+ -related trends and attitudes in an ever-changing society. 

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 LGBTQIA+ expressions. All are welcome at the meeting. In 2018, the Section sponsored pronoun buttons and rainbow ribbons which were available to all participants at the AFS annual meeting; the AFS staff has since taken over supporting this initiative. The section also awards the Joseph Goodwin Queer Folkloristics Student Paper Prize.


The convener of this section is Andrea Glass-Heffner.

Contact the section conveners at [email protected].

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Section Position Statement on Marriage

Faculty and students in the LGBTQIA+ 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 LGBTQIA+ 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 LGBTQIA+ 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 LGBTQIA+ communities, and 2) object to all forms of exclusion which deny LGBTQIA+ 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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