Molly Merryman

Molly Merryman

Director Of The Center For The Study Of Gender And Sexuality Vice President For The International Visual Sociology Association

Highland Lives, a documentary directed by Molly Merryman, aired on the UK-based cable program Tales from the Margins on January 8. Highland Lives is a 30-minute documentary that combines interviews with archival photographs to share life stories of gay, lesbian and transgendered people who live in Akron’s Highland Square neighborhood.

The first phase of the project was a team-taught special topics LGBTQ Methods class offered in Spring 2013. Four faculty from LGBT Studies (Cara Gilgenbach (Head of Special Collections), Molly Merryman (Sociology), David Purcell (Sociology), and Lauren Vachon. In this course, six undergraduate students learned sociological approaches to understanding cities, ethnographic and oral history methods, and conducted filmed field interviews. The student researchers were: Caitlyn Dillehay, Ashley Gregg, Jessica Rogers, Abigail Rosh, Courtney Thaman, and Brian Wakely.

Highland Lives premiered at the August 2014 international Gay Games, with video kiosk screenings at Flair Fest in downtown Akron and at the Game Change conference at the University of Akron. Clips and draft version have been shown at the Ethnografilm Festival in Paris and at academic meetings in Greece, the UK and the United States. For the final version, director Merryman was assisted by Kent State student (now graduate) Stefany Noling.

The Akron study was funded by the KSU College of Arts and Sciences' Collaborative Research Program. Additional support for the documentary Highland Lives was provided by the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the Department of Sociology.