All photos courtesy of  Eliél Freer-Sullivan

All photos courtesy of Eliél Freer-Sullivan


I am a doctoral candidate in the Sociology Department at Emory University. My research is at the intersection of four key areas of social life: sexuality, identity, trauma, and memory. Much of what I do involves stories and storytelling; given that stories have the power to shape both thought and social action, I center them in my empirical work and investigate how and in what ways stories can influence social life.

I am currently finishing up my dissertation research, with an eye towards a book project. In this NSF-funded project, I investigate the ways in which narratives of trauma can influence how gay people understand what it means to be gay. In this project, I examine generational differences in the relevance of the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic for gay New Yorkers, using collective memory as a frame to understand how stories are shared and made identity-relevant. You can learn more about how I approach this research project here.

In addition to my dissertation research, I am fascinated by the ways in which queer media uses aspects of heteronormative tropes in queer re-imaginings of the world. Queer media, particularly self-described subversive queer media, often draw upon and subverts heteronormative expectations to create art which reflects a more equitable version of social life. In my research, I examine the ways queer media innovate and conform to dominant cultural norms and expectations as a means of identifying, over the course of this research program, what norms have been rendered invisible and foundational. Given that queerness is predicated on blurring boundaries and defying definition, I examine queer storytelling as a means of identifying which, if any, beliefs and norms are framed as foundational, and therefore cannot be subverted even in a field predicated on subversion. Put another way, I frame my research around the question how queer is queer media?

Outside of my research interests, I try to spend my time baking, catching up on my favorite magical girl anime, and searching for a new not-so-quiet coffee shop to people watch over my dirty chai latte.