Understanding Homosexuality: The Pride and the Prejudice

The GLBTRT has been reviewing books and movies in its newsletter since the early 1990s. Trace the evolution of queer publishing through these historic reviews. This review was originally published in Vol. 3, No 3 & 4 Spring/Summer 1991. 

Cover of Understanding HomosexualityUnderstanding Homosexuality: The Pride and the Prejudice. By Roger E. Biery. Edward-William Publishing, 1990. Hardcover. $23.95 (ISBN 0-934411-37-9) Paper. $15.95 (ISBN 0-934411-38)

This is a well researched, comprehensive, and very readable study of a commonly misunderstood subject. It stands out from many of the books Biery lists in his bibliography as a work written for heterosexual and gay or lesbian people. This book sets out to explain homosexuality to us all, and it succeeds. Biery divides the book into lengthy sections that deal with concepts ranging from the definition of homosexuality to a beautiful section on homosexuality and the church.

Each of the shorter chapters in every section opens with a thought-provoking quotation by luminaries from Oscar Hammerstein II to Thomas Paine. The book begins with an explanation of scientific studies of homosexuality-Biery pointing out that none of these studies was conducted by an actual homosexual. The lengthy discussion of homophobia is particularly thought-provoking. Biery discusses the contributions of all segments of society to this problem, from the media to the gay and lesbian community, and the experience of institutionalized homophobia.

Biery personalizes his book with anecdotes from his own life; his discovery of his difference and his coming out process. Understanding Homosexuality is wide in its scope, but the writing never resorts to generalizations or oversimplification. Biery even includes tips for the coming out process for his gay and lesbian readers, as well as a chapter for their straight family and friends. The work is well documented and includes an index and a bibliography for further reader. This book is recommended for all public and academic libraries.

Reviewed by Lisa N. Johnston
Sweet Briar College
Sweet Briar, Virginia


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