UNC-Chapel Hill Professor of Political Science Andrew Reynolds will be launching his book, The Children of Harvey Milk: How LGBTQ Politicians Changed the World, all over the world in the coming months. Included in his tour is a New York City event in collaboration with the United Nations, as well as a London launch at Westminster with the Speaker of the House of Commons. But first, it’ll be premiered at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
“I’m very proud of our town and of the people here,” Dr. Reynolds said of Chapel Hill and the surrounding communities. “This is an ideal starting point.”
The launch from 4:30 to 6:00 on November 7 at Flyleaf will be highlighted by a discussion with Reynolds and a half-hour roundtable with LGBTQ elected officials from across North Carolina, moderated by Steven Petrow of USA Today. The panel will include Lydia Lavelle, Damon Seils, Billy Maddalon, Candis Cox, and Mark Kleinschmidt, some of whom are featured in The Children of Harvey Milk. The president and publisher of Oxford University Press USA, Niko Pfund, will also be in attendance.
Reynolds hopes the panel will be empowering, particularly for the youth of North Carolina, as the speakers are great role models for both LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ individuals.
“All these people have made amazing contributions to change in this state in very difficult environments,” he said. “It’s nice to have a panel with them and for them to talk about their experiences because ultimately, this is a book about them.”
Reynolds, the founder of the UNC LGBTQ Representation and Rights Research Initiative, spent the better part of the last 10 years conceptualizing, interviewing, and writing this book. Throughout that time, he said he was inspired by the openness of the people he interviewed.
“Politicians are normally quite closed about their personal lives, but the LGBTQ politicians I’ve interviewed around the world have been incredibly open,” he said. “I’ve had multiple people in tears in the interviews with me – senior cabinet ministers, politicians from around the world – when they’re talking about their history, their lives.”
The Children of Harvey Milk is an academic book, but it also tells meaningful stories in an accessible way, Reynolds said. They’re stories of success and loss and perseverance that everyone can relate to. Ultimately, that’s what it’s really about: people sharing stories of their past in the hopes that they’ll reach people who really need to hear them.
“My book is trying to magnify those stories, amplify those stories like a loudspeaker,” Reynolds said. “Because if one person sitting in Rutherfordton or Morganton or Shelby, North Carolina, picks it up and says, ‘Wow I don’t have to feel like I’m useless, like I’m worthless, because there are people in my state around me who succeed and are valid because of their sexual orientation.’ – that’s what it’s all about.”
The launch of The Children of Harvey Milk: How LGBTQ Politicians Changed the World, takes place November 7 from 4:30-6pm at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill. The event is free and open to the public. To learn more about the event, as well as how to order an advance copy of the for the reduced price of $20.00, visit https://humanities.unc.edu/event/the-children-of-harvey-milk/.