Note: ‘queer’ is still seen as a slur by some people, and reclaimed by others. I prefer to use the term ‘queer’ to describe my own sexuality. This book also uses this because you can’t put an identity on people that are no longer alive. Just because a woman has a relationship with a woman, doesn’t necessarily mean she’s a lesbian, she could be bisexual, for example. That’s why ‘queer’ is being used, it shows that these people are not straight, but we aren’t giving them a label that isn’t true.
It’s no secret I’m queer as heck. It’s also no secret I love history. It’s also no secret that history tends to erase everyone that isn’t a white, cis, straight male. So let’s have a look at a history book all about queer people!
World history has been made by countless lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals—and you’ve never heard of many of them. Queer author and activist Sarah Prager delves deep into the lives of 23 people who fought, created, and loved on their own terms. From high-profile figures like Abraham Lincoln and Eleanor Roosevelt to the trailblazing gender-ambiguous Queen of Sweden and a bisexual blues singer who didn’t make it into your history books, these astonishing true stories uncover a rich queer heritage that encompasses every culture, in every era.
Just to make sure you know: this book is NOT targeted to adults. This is a book for teenagers. The writing style is therefore, quite juvenile. I loved it. I like it when history books make things approachable and not dry. History authors have the tendency to be very dry, because they want to be taken seriously. It’s understandable, but makes history sometimes a subject that isn’t easy to get into. I loved the approach of this one!
I love how transpeople have NOT been forgotten. SO many books forget about transpeople, but they have always been here and need to not be forgotten. The book tries to be very diverse, which I appreciate as well, considering it only covers 23 people, it’s hard to narrow down who to talk about!
What I didn’t like though, is that the book starts out talking about the way we see gender and queerness all over the world, and yet most people in the book are from the United States. I was really intrigued by the introduction, but don’t get into it further along in the book. I wish they would’ve mentioned Native Americans a little bit more, or at least talked about one person. There are so many queer people in history, why only focus on America?
I do know this book is written in America, and it’s for teenagers, but it just feels like it’s mispromoted. The author should’ve written a book about just American queer people, and not just have three people that aren’t Americans to cover a wider audience.
Though this has been the thing that I disliked the most, I really did love this book and I really, really hope the author is going to write more. I highly recommend this book, especially for teenagers who are questioning their identity, because it’s good to know what our queer ancestors did.
I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads, and you can get your copy here.