Tyler Gillespie

Cindy Seip

Tyler Gillespie was once embarrassed to call Florida home, making up stories he’d been born somewhere else. In The Thing about Florida: Exploring a Misunderstood State (University Press of Florida) the Sunshine State native faces his denial and takes readers on an exuberant search for the reality behind the caricatures. A gay man raised in a Southern Baptist home, he argues for the importance of understanding the diversity and complexity of Florida today. “It’s dangerous to meet our fears with fear,” he writes of confronting his own as well as the state’s monsters – invasive species, hurricanes, and environmental destruction among them – and ultimately finds Florida’s humanity, a beautiful mix of hopes, dreams, and second chances.