“You Can Tell Just by Looking,” by Michael Bronski, Ann Pellegrini, and Michael Amico (2013)

(nb: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss)

Until recently, I worked for a company with a large percentage of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgendered (LGBT) employees. They were supervisors, floor employees, executives—literally, there were LGBT people at every level and in every department. The ones I knew showed up every day, worked hard, were friendly and kind, and were invested in our company’s success.

And any one of them could have been fired on the spot for being LGBT. Goodbye. Do not pass Go; do not collect $200, and leave your ID with the
guard.

Myth #19, in this fascinating glimpse into LGBT issues, is “Anti-Discrimination Laws in the United States Protect LGBT People.” Some states have enacted such laws, but not Florida, where my company is.

I am not homosexual, nor have I ever been. However, I have had a number of very close LGBT friends—I’ve worked in more LGBT-friendly industries than most people have—and I like to think I have a pretty good grasp on what’s real and what’s myth concerning LGBT persons.

Turns out, I’m not quite as informed as I thought.

The 21 Myths in this book deal with all manner of topics faced by LGBT’s, from fallacies regarding how they came to be LGBT in the first place, to how different religions discriminate (or don’t) against them, even how there is—as I mentioned—no federal law protecting their rights.

“You Can Tell Just by Looking” takes on each myth individually, and explains in clear language why these myths exist, and how they can be overcome.

One fact I hadn’t considered before, is that there hasn’t always been peace in the LGBT ranks. The L’s and G’s have mostly worked together for decades, but there was some resistance to adding “Bisexual” to their lobbying group. Same with Transgender—I mean, that’s a completely different situation, right?

That’s how many of the L’s, G’s, and B’s saw things. So this big group has had its share of internecine struggles. Also, how big a group is it? Myth #2 is that “About 10 Percent of People Are Gay or Lesbian.”

There are great insights in this book. The authors draw from a variety of sources, and write in a clear, economical style. Most of all, this isn’t a book designed to turn people gay. (If anything, I think reading some of the hardships LGBT’s face might be a deterrent.) It’s designed to dispel myths and facilitate understanding, but also to put the LGBT experience into sociological context. There has been a wealth of scholarly research into LGBT people and how they fit into society, and yet we’re less likely to hear enlightened discourse than some idiot saying, “Look! That guy’s as queer as a football bat.”

Speaking of which…As for Myth #1, “You Can Tell Who’s Gay Just By Looking”? Watch Rock Hudson in “Giant,” and tell me he “looked gay.” Not a damn chance.

Highly Recommended.

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About tom

B.A. in Literature, Minor in Film Theory and Criticism, thus meaning all I’m trained is to write blog posts here. Neptune is my favorite planet–it vents methane into the solar system like my brother does. I think Chicken McNuggets look like Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Indiana. There are times when I’m medicated, which is why I wrote about McNuggets. Buy some today and tell me I’m wrong! Anyway, Beyond that: mammal, Floridian, biped.Good Night, and Good Luck. Besos, tom
This entry was posted in Books, History, LGBT, Non Fiction and/or Commentary. Bookmark the permalink.

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