Subject Headings for Queer Studies

ANSS Subject and Bibliographic Access Committee
Question/Answer on cataloging issues – July 2013

By Wade Kotter, Weber State University

Question: How is the field of Queer Studies being handled in subject headings?


“Queer Studies” does not appear in the Library of Congress Subject Headings either as an authorized heading or as a cross-reference. The authorized heading for the field of study focused on gays and lesbians is Gay and lesbian studies, which may be subdivided geographically. The authority record for this heading ( lists four “Used For” terms: Gay studies; Homophile studies; Lesbian and gay studies; and Lesbian studies. This record also gives Education – Curricula as a broader term. In addition, the Library of Congress Subject Headings includes only two authorized headings that use the word “Queer,” both of which may be of interest, if only tangentially, to people searching for works related to Gay and lesbian studies:

Queer theory (may be subdivided geographically)]; Gender identity is given as a “See also” reference for Queer theory

Queer theology (may be subdivided geographically) []; Theology, Doctrinal is given as a “See also” reference for Queer theology

In contrast, the Library of Congress Subject Headings includes numerous authorized headings beginning with Gay,” “Gays,” “Lesbian” and “Lesbians,” some of which refer to various professions and subject areas. Some examples include:

Gay activists (may be subdivided geographically)

Gay adoption (may be subdivided geographically)

Gay and lesbian dance parties (may be subdivided geographically)

Gays in the performing arts (may be subdivided geographically)

Lesbian activists (may be subdivided geographically)

Lesbian business enterprises (may be subdivided geographically)

Lesbians and sports (may be subdivided geographically)

For a broader discussion of subject headings for gender studies and related areas, see this Q&A:

And for a discussion of how sexual minorities and alternative genders are treated in subject headings, see this Q&A: