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Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Studies (LGBTQ): Search Strategies for LGBTQ Research

Provides an overview of resources locally and within Fordham University Libraries covering lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer studies.

Search Strategies for LGBTQ Research

Welcome to the LGBTQ Studies Research Guide!

decorative  Selecting keywords for research in LGBTQ+ Studies can be challenging for a variety of reasons:

  • The "LGBTQ+ community" is not a monolith; there are divisions and hierarchies amongst various identities creating a range of lived experiences.
  • Language for naming and describing LGBTQ+ communities changes over time and varies across regions and cultures.
  • Many terms for naming LGBTQ+ communities remain contested and debated from within the community and can include reclaimed terms that were once considered offensive.
  • Terms and/or subject classifications used in academic literature may be different from the language that is used in everyday speech or activist movements.
  • Using initials like "LGBT" or "LGBTQIA" or "GLBT" as search terms might not generate desired results in library catalogs or databases because:
    • Some scholarship focuses on specific identity groups (gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, trans* communities, etc.) rather than including a spectrum of identities.
    • These initials reflect more recent naming conventions and were not used widely before the late 1990s.

This page provides tools to take these issues into consideration when selecting keywords and developing search strategies that cast a wide net when searching library catalogs and databases.

Search Tips & Tricks

  • As you search through library databases, look for subjects, subject headings, index terms, categories, or author-supplied keywords. You can use these terms to improve your search based on how the database is structured. If the terms are hyperlinked, you can click on them to generate similar results.


  • Use Boolean Operators [AND, OR, NOT] and Modifiers [ "", *, ( ) ] to structure your search terms within a database to maximize your results. Some databases provide boxes to support Boolean searching:

Search example


Glossaries and Terminology Guides for LGBTQ+ Communities

Bibliographies & Language Sources

decorative  Bibliographies can be helpful with researching historical terms and topics pertaining to LGBTQ+ communities.

decorative  Resources documenting language and slang can assist with locating outdated terms to describe LGBTQ+ communities when searching through historical sources.

decorative  As always, please check the library catalog for additional resources. For research assistance, feel free to ask one of the librarians listed on this guide for help.

From the Digital Transgender Archive

[Image description : Button containing the words transsexual, transgender, transgressive, genderqueer, two-spirited.]

Image credit : Button Collection from the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives via the Digital Transgender Archive.

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