2014 Lambda Literary Award Finalist: LGBT Nonfiction
Breaks down the most commonly held misconceptions about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their lives
In “You Can Tell Just by Looking” three scholars and activists come together to unpack enduring, popular, and deeply held myths about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, culture, and life in America. Myths, such as “All Religions Condemn Homosexuality” and “Transgender People Are Mentally Ill,” have been used to justify discrimination and oppression of LGBT people. Others, such as “Homosexuals Are Born That Way,” have been embraced by LGBT communities and their allies. In discussing and dispelling these myths—including gay-positive ones—the authors challenge readers to question their own beliefs and to grapple with the complexities of what it means to be queer in the broadest social, political, and cultural sense.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
This rigorous book addresses 21 beliefs about LGBT people held by those in and out of the LGBT community. Academics Bronski (A Queer History of the United States), Pellegrini (Performance Anxieties), and Amico have two goals: to "dispel harmful, often hostile myths, stereotypes, and false assumptions about LGBT people" and to "explain what myths do, how they work and move in the world." The authors examine terminology ("transgender," "bisexual," "LGBT"), statistics, research past and present, and cultural phenomena, to show how the American public frames, processes, and accepts or rejects the presence of LGBT individuals and communities through the construction of these foundational myths. What emerges is a disturbing picture of the ways in which research, language, and media are contorted to suit pro- or anti-LGBT agendas. As the authors note, "Our culture is pretty terrible at talking about sex and sexual pleasure," and it flattens "the messiness of reality" through unexamined myth. This powerful book demands that we look more closely at the ways we move in and structure our society, and asks vital questions that will steer the culture toward justice and equality.