Out of the Ordinary: Representations of LGBT Lives (Book Review)

Authors:  Rivers, Ian and Richard Ward
Publisher:  Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012, 145pp., Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
Reviewed by:  Brad Larsen

Out of the Ordinary: Representations of LGBT LivesOut Of the Ordinary introduces readers to the “politics and practices of representation” as they relate to the experiences of LGBT individuals and groups who might be considered to be living on the fringe. This book is a group of stories, recollections, calls to action, and critical analyses put together by the editors who invited scholars, creators, activists, and LGBT allies to dialogue about the broad LGBT experience. Each of the nine chapters is a different author’s reflection on an LGBT individual, group, or experience that is not explicitly represented or reflected by mainstream media or culture. The editors conclude the book with their own reflection on the evolution of the collected essays. They took a leap of faith to bring together a diverse group of writers; for that reason, however, the book reads disjointedly.

Each chapter offers an opportunity for a reexamination of sex and gender in rarely considered contexts that might otherwise go unnoticed such as LGBT representation in public libraries and the examination of sexuality in the judiciary . Essays about the experience of invisibility for gay black British men, the evolution of public sex, challenges faced by transgender individuals seeking medical services, and the medical model of the sexed body from a queer perspective fill out the collection.

The editors conclude the collection by describing how they see unifying themes in the public and private nature of identity, the importance of attending to body process, and the significance of visibility and invisibility.

This book offers a human representation for queer persons who might not otherwise see themselves reflected in ordinary media and culture. For any reader, this book offers an extension of knowledge and expansion of the heart. Though not explicitly written for psychologists, the prospect for developing one’s awareness and understanding of lives lived on the margins of society exists in the pages of this collection.