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Queer Studies

The Library of Congress vs. The Alternative Press Index

The Library of Congress Subject Headings in the Library's catalogue -- and used in many online databases as well -- have been criticized by library practitioners and scholars for their heteronormativity. A database that offers more queer-friendly alternatives to some of these terms is The Alternative Press Index. According to its website,

The Alternative Press Index (API) was born with the New Left of the 1960's. It was launched in 1969 to provide access to the practices and theories of radical social change. The Index is international and interdisciplinary, spanning the social sciences and humanities, with its central focus on the practice and theory of socialism, national liberation, labor, indigenous peoples, gays/lesbians, feminism, ecology, democracy, and anarchism.

A comparison between these two lexicons can offer the research terminologies and approaches more suited to queer-positive research. (Comparison by Michael Dudley).  


Library of Congress Subject Headings

The Alternative Press Index

Gays (universalizing and subsumes narrower term Lesbians)

Gay men (distinguishes between queer men and women)



Coming out (sexual orientation)

Coming out

Heterosexism (recognizes acts of discrimination, but not oppressive cultural norms)

Heteronormativity (recognizes oppression in cultural norms)

Transgender people

transgenderism and transgendered people



Library of Congress Subject Headings

The Alternative Press Index

Gay liberation movement (universalizing)

Glbtq movement; glbtq people and politics (more inclusive); glbtq activists (concerns people as political actors)

Sex – Political aspects (generic heading doesn’t recognize existence of sexual politics)

Sexual politics

gay rights (universalizing)

glbtq rights (more inclusive)

Same-sex marriage (only recognizes such unions as a concept)

same-sex marriages (recognizes the existence of such unions)

Queer theory

Queer theory; Queerness (recognizes queerness as a state of being, a quality of something)



Library of Congress Subject Headings
places responsibility for health on the individual)

The Alternative Press Index
sees health care as a social and political responsibility)

Gay men / Lesbians – health & hygiene

Gay / Lesbian health and health care;

Sexual minorities – health & hygiene

Transsexual and transgender health & health care


Identity, Culture & Community‚Äč

Library of Congress Subject Headings

The Alternative Press Index

Gay communities

Gay / lesbian culture and life

Gay men/Lesbians – Identity

Identity (no specific glbtq heading)

Bisexuality – political aspects

Bisexuality (no specific political heading)

Intersectionality (Sociology)



Racialized Groups

Library of Congress Subject Headings

The Alternative Press Index

African-American gays/Lesbians

african american glbtq people; glbtq people of color

Hispanic American gays/lesbians

latina/o glbtq people

Indians of North America – Sexual behavior; Indian gays/lesbians

native american glbtq people



Library of Congress Subject Headings

The Alternative Press Index

Gay rights – religious aspects (oppression of LGBTQ+ people by religious groups is not a ‘religious aspect’ of rights)

Homophobia – religious aspects

anti-glbtq groups (recognizes the oppressive nature of religious groups’ discrimination)

Homophobia; Heterosexism;


Homophobia; Glbtq oppression;


Gays – crimes against;

Gays -- violence against

Glbtq oppression;

Violence against glbtq people

Gays – Nazi persecution

Glbtq oppression; Holocaust



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