Molly Merryman Elected Vice President, International Visual Sociology Association

Molly Merryman Elected Vice President, International Visual Sociology Association

Merryman's New Documentary

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.


  1. The Brighton-based UK Live-TV Tales from the Margin Extra is dedicating two weeks of programming to show Red Umbrella Rights and an interview with me. This airs all through the UK and is web-accessible throughout Europe.
  2. Red Umbrella Rights is screening at the NYC CineKink Film Festival, and depending on how that screening goes it may be selected for the touring show. CineKink started it 2003. It and the San Francisco Sex Worker Film Festival which screened the documentary at this past summer (2017) are highly regarded festivals that welcome sex workers.
  3. NY MOMA invited Dr Merryman to create a short version of Red Umbrella Rights for its Sex Workers’ Festival of Resistance on March 4, 2018. She is attending that and combining it with an invited screening of the full version of Red Umbrella Rights at Sarah Lawrence College. 
POSTED: Friday, August 3, 2018 - 1:00am
UPDATED: Friday, August 3, 2018 - 11:58am