I am an associate professor of Sociology and the coordinator of the LGBT Studies program at Kent State University. I primarily teach in the Master’s program in Criminology & Criminal Justice, where my focus is in Victimology and diversity. My scholarly work utilizes documentary video methodologies—in other words, I make movies. I currently serve on the Executive board for the Ethnografilm Festival and on the editorial board for the Journal of Visual Ethnography. I also am on the national advisory committee for Expanding the Circle and am a member of the Oral History Association.
My research is qualitative, drawing from ethnography, oral history and documentary filmmaking methodologies and techniques. While my specific topics vary, my guiding concern is utilizing these methods and my power as an institutionally-housed scholar to give voice to marginalized people. Primarily, I share my work in the form of scholarly video documentaries. My documentaries have screened internationally, been broadcast on PBS, and are made available to research participants to further their own causes. I am deeply committed to social change, and see visual sociology as a means for improving the lives of others as well as furthering sociological understandings.
My current research addresses two different topics: LGBTQ people and sex worker activists. I am in the initial stages of a statewide study of people living in LGBTQ neighborhoods in the seven largest cities in Ohio, a state that is at the bottom of the nation when it comes to LGBTQ rights, policies and opportunities. I completed a documentary on the gayborhood in Akron, which was part of the programming for the international Gay Games in 2014. I am currently seeking grant funding to continue the project throughout the state, with the intention of creating mini-docs in each city that will be used by equality activists to improve rights and conditions. I also am in the final stages of editing a feature-length documentary about the Sex Workers Outreach Project, a social justice organization that seeks to reduce violence and improve the rights and status of sex workers around the world. My documentary focuses on SWOP’s International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, in interviews founders and current members from the SF Bay area chapter.