Bronski, Amico '07 co-author book dispelling LGBT myths
With the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community increasingly in the media spotlight, addressing myths about the LGBT community is more necessary than ever, according to three scholarly, activist minds behind the recently published book “‘You Can Tell Just By Looking’ and 20 Other Myths About LGBT Life and People.”
The book, co-authored by women’s and gender studies professor Michael Bronski, American studies graduate student at Yale University Michael Amico ’07 and New York University religious studies professor Ann Pellegrini explores 21 American misconceptions about the LGBT community, including dispelling misconceptions that sexual abuse causes homosexuality and that LGBT parents are bad for children.
The misconceptions discussed in the book are the most “pernicious” of myths circulating in the media, Amico said.
“Just because there’s more that’s being said about it doesn’t mean that it’s any smarter or more nuanced or even more accepting, actually, of an increasingly diverse way of being LGB or T,” he said. “In some ways it’s a paradox that the increasing visibility of these issues in the media actually can lead to a dumbing down, a simplification, of them.”
Amico said the book is unique because it not only addresses homophobic myths about the gay community, but also stereotypes held by members of the community itself.
“Things that LGBT people hold for themselves, we challenge,” he said. “We say that we all hold myths about ourselves and we need to question what we believe as much as we’re challenging what others say about it.”
The book addresses topics pertinent to the LGBT community, and breaches broader, more general questions about modern society, Bronski said. Through dispelling the myth that LGBT parenting is bad for children, the book explores the fundamental relationship between all parents and their children.
“I think it’s not just a book for LGBT people or allies,” Bronski said. “It really is a book to think about how we live in the world today.”
Beacon Press, the book’s publisher, suggested Bronski write the book with Amico, who is his former student, as the third in a series by the publishing company. The series aims to dispel myths about specific communities like those of immigrants and labor unions, along with this work on the LGBT community.
The scholars joined the project to further their activism in the LGBT community and to inspire change in the representation of LGBT identities and life, Amico said. He added that contributing to the work helped him explore his own identity, and Pellegrini said her involvement allowed her to bridge the gap between the classroom and the larger world.
Bronski said the age gap among the authors greatly benefited the book, bringing diverse experiences to influence the final product, he said.
Bronski drew on his experiences with LGBT activism since the late 1960s, Pellegrini represented the second-wave feminist and lesbian liberation movements after Bronski’s peak involvement and Amico contributed greater understanding of more recent events in the LGBT community like the 1980s HIV outbreak.
Collaboration among professors and their students, such as Bronski and Amico, are rarer than they should be, Bronski said.
Bronski and Amico’s relationship is now that of friends and colleagues rather than teachers and students. The pair has worked together on projects since Amico was a student at the College.
“A really, really wonderful thing about Dartmouth is it really encourages and fosters intellectual engagement between professors and students,” Bronski said.
Pellegrini, who collaborated with several Dartmouth alumni in the past, said in an email writing with Bronski and Amico added persuasive and argumentative value to the book.
“Thinking alongside and writing with others are intense and richly rewarding,” she said. “This does not mean it is easy, but nothing rewarding is.”
Bronski and Amico are hosting a book signing and discussion at the Top of the Hopkins Center at 4:15 p.m. on Wednesday.