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Deep, committed, and loving relationships across lines such as class, nation, sex, race, religion, ideology, ability, age, gender, and sexual orientation can help light the way toward a more equitable and just society. In Solidarity: Friendship, Family, and Activism Beyond Gay and Straight, by Lisa M. Tillmann, shows what being an ally requires, means, and does.

Tillmann’s first book, Between Gay and Straight: Understanding Friendship across Sexual Orientation, stemmed from her Ph.D. dissertation (1994-1998). The work chronicled Tillmann’s journey from small-town girl—heterosexually-identified and raised Catholic in the 1970s and 80s—to emotional, relational, and political ally to an urban network of gay male friends. The essays and website materials collected for In Solidarity demonstrate how Tillmann has mobilized the raised consciousness acquired along and since that journey in her continued research, campus and community advocacy and activism, teaching, and everyday life.

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Lisa M. Tillmann, Ph.D., is an activist researcher, social justice documentary filmmaker, and professor of Critical Media and Cultural Studies (CMC), a program she founded at Rollins College. Grounded in values of peace, equity, and justice, CMC examines the world’s most pressing issues and challenges and helps students envision ways to work toward change. On campus and in central Florida, Dr. Tillmann has participated in numerous activist initiatives, many centering on civil rights. She authored the book, Between Gay and Straight: Understanding Friendship across Sexual Orientation, produced the film Weight Problem: Cultural Narratives of Fat and “Obesity,” and co-produced the films Off the Menu: Challenging the Politics and Economics of Body and Food and Remembering a Cool September (about LGBT civil rights). Dr. Tillmann may be contacted at:


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Curriculum Vitae


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The dialogic nature of Lisa Tillmann’s research manages to portray characters and communication as they unfold, portraying research for what it truly is: a meeting, a set of encounters. This work is a great example of all that is good about qualitative inquiry.

- Dr. Phillip Vannini, Professor, Communication and Culture, Royal Roads University
Co-author, Off the Grid: Re-Assembling Domestic Life

Lisa Tillmann shows what it means to be both a compassionate researcher and a cultural critic, and to maintain an unwavering commitment to the struggle for social justice for LGBTQ+ people over the course of two decades. Weaving a tapestry of poetry, politics, and performative writing, Tillmann gives researchers and students a rare glimpse into how our ethnographic projects change the people we study. Refusing to shy away from interviewing people who hold opposing beliefs, Tillmann uses friendship as method to reveal the sham, humiliation, resistance, and secrecy endured by members of the families she studied, both those who have come out and those to whom they came out. In the process, she produces a therapeutic and healing text, one that gives us hope and optimism that the future will indeed be better than the past. I highly recommend In Solidarity for courses on family communication, activist research, social justice, and cultural/critical studies.

- Arthur Bochner, Distinguished Professor, Communication, University of South Florida
Past President, National Communication Association
Author, Coming to Narrative: A Personal History of Paradigm Change in the Human Sciences

Tillmann’s excellent book explains qualitative methods such as autoethnography, interviewing, and participant observation by offering compelling examples of each. It provides cutting edge forays into poetry, friendship as method, and collaborative and activist scholarship. Tillmann makes qualitative research come alive because she invites you into her life as well as into the world of scholarship.

- Lynn H. Turner, Professor, Communication Studies, Marquette University
Past President, National Communication Association
Co-editor, Sage Handbook of Family Communication

Story, poetry, video, performance scripts, and prose are lovingly composed by a front line LGBTQ+ activist, scholar, teacher, filmmaker, writer, and friend. Interpretive and critical, creative and aesthetic, personal and collaborative, passionate and vulnerable, sensitizing and mobilizing, this text will break hearts and break open minds—of teachers and students, those who identify as LGBTQ+ and their (potential) allies—and then empower readers to put hearts back together and use understanding and empathy to DO something in solidarity.

- Carolyn Ellis, Distinguished Professor, Communication, University of South Florida
Co-author, Autoethnography: Understanding Qualitative Research

In this panoramic and intimate book, Lisa Tillmann invites readers into the lives of actual families, friends, and romantic partners living the personal and political challenges of relationships spanning sexual orientations. Lisa is a narrator, poet, character and fellow traveler, a vulnerable target of others’ responses, a partner, friend, diligent questioner, and always a reflective guide. This engaging text vividly demonstrates how creative scholarly work can inspire and model genuine dialogue.

- William K. Rawlins, Stocker Professor of Communication Studies, Ohio University
Author, The Compass of Friendship: Narratives, Identities, and Dialogues

Lisa Tillmann’s In Solidarity: Friendship, Family, and Activism Beyond Gay and Straight is an impassioned, poetic, and beautifully compelling call to be an ally in the struggle for racial, class, national, religious, dis/ability, gender and queer equality. A valuable resource for teachers, students, and activists in Communication, LGBTQ+, Gender and Women’s Studies, and Cultural Studies, In Solidarity embodies the personal, relational, and political commitment to social justice that it seeks to inspire in us all.

- Stacy Holman Jones, Professor, Communication Studies, California State University, Northridge
Co-editor, Handbook of Autoethnography

Dr. Tillmann is a vulnerable, transparent, and relationally-mindful ethnographer who takes as her focus the personal, familial, and cultural injustices that many LGBTQ+ persons encounter in everyday life. An important text for courses on interpersonal communication, social activism, queer studies, and critical qualitative research.

- Tony E. Adams, Associate Professor, Communication, Media and Theatre, Northeastern Illinois University
Author, Narrating the Closet: An Autoethnography of Same-Sex Attraction

The commitment to friendship as method, and really as life choice, is astonishing. Your [Lisa Tillmann’s] work, writing, activism, and personal life are beautifully integrated in a way that makes sense to me as an aesthetic ethnographer/methodologist and activist. You model reflexivity. You model the struggle of ethical engagement around subject matter with profound material consequences. The manuscript is powerful and evocative. I found myself several times reading in public and wiping the tears from my eyes. I was transported.

- Anonymous Reviewer