Joan E. Biren

Joan E. Biren

Joan E. Biren (JEB), an award-winning documentary photographer and filmmaker, has been chronicling the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals for more than 30 years. Her most recent film, No Secret Anymore: The Times of Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, tells the story of the two women who, in 1955, founded the Daughters of Bilitis, the first public organization for lesbians in America.

Biren’s nonprofit video production company, Moonforce Media, produces and distributes films and videos that serve progressive communities and promote social justice. Her films include A Simple Matter of Justice, which documented the 1993 March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay, and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation, and Removing the Barriers, which is used to train healthcare providers to improve service to lesbian clients.

A self-taught photographer, Biren is the author of two groundbreaking collections: Eye to Eye: Portraits of Lesbians (1979) and Making a Way: Lesbians Out Front (1987). In 1997 George Washington University organized Queerly Visible, a retrospective exhibition of her photographs, which traveled the country.

After majoring in political science at Mount Holyoke, Biren earned an M.A. in communications at American University, then completed three years of doctoral work at Oxford University. Biren and Ginny Berson ’67 were among 12 women who founded The Furies, a lesbian-feminist collective and periodical in Washington, D.C., in 1972. Biren has been a featured speaker at the NGLTF Creating Change Conference, the National Women’s Studies Association, the National Women’s Music Festival, and the National Lesbian Physicians’ Conference.

Class Year: 

Mount Holyoke College

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