New Resource: LGBT Studies in Video

Black and white image of Marcus Rene Van, narrator of Junk Box Warrior, standing in front of a fence. The words Junk Box Warrior are written left and below center of the image.

Junk Box Warrior opens with a mechanical drone, shimmering chimes and drum hits in a pitched-down hip-hop pulse before poet Marcus Rene Van's begins, "Marching down stained Mission streets..." Lo-res black and white photographs sequenced into stop motion depict Marcus Rene Van sitting, head in hands. This short switches between scenes of Marcus Rene Van walking through the city, stopping to show the stares of passersby, and a trio of men confronting Marcus Rene Van. During a scene of Marcus Rene Van in front of scrapyard machinery reciting lines, the narration declares "And you've got to understand that I'm having these conversations with myself for the first time."  In a pre-Google San Francisco and a pre-transgender tipping point United States, Marcus Rene Van asks "What does it mean to be me? What does it mean to be transitioning daily, yes?" Watch and listen.

Bloomington residents may be familiar with a Burroughs Century, a symposium held last February to celebrate William S. Burroughs' 100th birthdayThe Beat generation author known for his novels Naked LunchJunky and Queer is no stranger to controversy. The Japanese Sandman, a 2007 short by Edward Buhr, is no exception. The film is based on a letter from Burroughs and Howl author Allen Ginsberg's fictional correspondence, collected in the Yage Letters. These letters were ostensibly written while Burroughs was on the lam from the U.S. and Mexican authorities in Panama. A driving jazz backbeat accompanies black and white shots illustrating Burroughs' observations of a Panamanian underworld of addicts, hustlers and prostitutes before moving into color flashbacks set to an instrumental rendition of "Home on the Range" depicting Burroughs' failed teenage romance with a young man, Billy Bradshinkle. This meditation on memory explores the recollections of "just an old second hand man, trading new dreams for old" as the Whiting & Egan song—where the film's title comes from—goes.  

Junk Box Warrior and The Japanese Sandman are just two examples of recent additions to LGBT Studies in Video. This resource from Alexander Street is a "cinematic survey" of streaming video. It features hundreds of videos about LGBT life and culture browsable by content type, author, area of interest, subject, and the people, places & organizations discussed. The selection ranges from feature films to documentary, lecture and performance documentation as well as interviews and archival footage. Videos provide transcription of text and dialogue for some videos, as well as a tool for creating video clips (by clicking on the scissors icon in the media player) and bookmarking moments in the videos for later study. The search function looks at the author, title, subjects, etc. within the collection, and also searches within the transcription of videos, which comes in handy if you remember a line from a movie but not its title, or are trying to find discussions of specific people, places, and topics. So if you're looking for a feature like Cheryl Dunye's The Watermelon Woman or a documentary about intersex individuals, want to view the abovementioned creative shorts, find something new or discover something from the past, take a look through LGBT Studies in History.

by Thom Sullivan