LGBTQ Life in America
Examining the Facts
by Melissa R. Michelson and Brian F. Harrison
December 2021, 221pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-7505-2
$70, £54, 61€, A96
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-7506-9
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

As acceptance of LGBTQ people has grown in American society, the number of Americans identifying as LGBTQ has also increased, with 4.5% of the adult population identifying as LGBTQ, according to one 2017 Gallup poll. But a 2019 Gallup survey found that American adults erroneously believe that nearly one in four Americans (23.6%) are gay or lesbian.

This indispensable book debunks common myths and misconceptions about the LGBTQ community while providing accurate information about LGBTQ people, their successes and shared history, and the current challenges they face in American society.

This book provides readers with a clear and unbiased understanding of what it means to be LGBTQ in the United States in the 2020s. Beginning with the origins of LGBTQ identity and history, the book addresses the current status of the LGBTQ community; gender expectations and performance in American culture; transgender and non-binary identity; behaviors and outcomes associated with LGBTQ people; and, finally, diversity within the LGBTQ community. Utilizing authoritative sources and lay-friendly definitions and explanations, this work punctures myths, misconceptions, and incorrect assumptions about sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expectations and norms. In addition, it provides an illuminating record of the history of discrimination and mistreatment to which LGBTQ people have historically been subjected in the U.S. At a time when information itself is increasingly fraught in American political discourse, this book provides facts and context for the most important questions facing LGBTQ Americans, past, present, and future.


  • Provides readers with factual, easy-to-understand information about sexuality, sexual orientation, and gender identity
  • Confronts falsehoods, half-truths, and misconceptions about LGBTQ identity and life in the U.S.
  • Bridges the divide between disparate sources of information about LGBTQ identity and rights in the U.S.
  • Paints a broad narrative about sociopolitical change surrounding LGBTQ people and rights over time
Melissa R. Michelson, PhD, is dean of arts and sciences and professor of political science at Menlo College and past president of the LGBT Caucus of the American Political Science Association. She is the award-winning author of six books, including Listen, We Need to Talk: How to Change Attitudes about LGBT Rights and Transforming Prejudice: Identity, Fear, and Transgender Rights.

Brian F. Harrison, PhD, is visiting assistant professor at Carleton College. An award-winning teacher and author, he has published Listen, We Need to Talk: How to Change Attitudes about LGBT Rights; A Change Is Gonna Come: How to Have Effective Political Conversations in a Divided America; and Transforming Prejudice: Identity, Fear, and Transgender Rights. He is also founder and president of Voters for Equality, an organization encouraging political engagement among LGBTQ people in the United States.


"Accurately describes the diversity, challenges, and needs of LGBTQ Americans while at the same time dispelling false, misleading, and long-held misperceptions in an unbiased, fact-based, and engaging style."—Library Journal, March 1, 2022

"Given the current sociopolitical climate, this reference provides much-needed information on the challenges the LGBTQ community faces today. Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers through faculty; professionals."—Choice, October 1, 2022

Contemporary Debates

Each title in the Contemporary Debates series examines the veracity of controversial claims or beliefs surrounding a major political/cultural issue in the United States. The purpose of the series is to give readers a clear and unbiased understanding of current issues by informing them about falsehoods, half-truths, and misconceptions—and confirming the factual validity of other assertions—that have gained traction in America's political and cultural discourse. Ultimately, this series gives readers the tools for a fuller understanding of controversial issues, policies, and laws that occupy center stage in American life and politics.
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