'The person I am today has been shaped and influenced by so many queer heroes. We stand on the shoulders of giants.'
Words by Jack Guinness
Queer culture is all around, whether you realise it or not – and no, I’m not just talking about
Drag Race slowly taking over the world.
It has shaped our culture and history – from the music we dance to, the sports we watch, the books we read, to OBVIOUSLY, the clothes we wear! Yet for too long, LGBQT+ narratives have been hidden, for people’s own safety, or forcibly erased. Just look how national hero Alan Turing was treated, his legacy until recently, straight-washed.
It gives me so much joy to see projects like the television show Gentleman Jack reveal the hidden lesbian history of Anne Lister, or Pose teaching younger generations the story of the Black, Latinx, gay and Trans communities’ struggles and triumphs during the AIDS crisis.
The Queer Bible is about bringing those stories out in the light to be celebrated.
The book contains essays written by my queer heroes about the trailblazers who changed their lives – from the famous, like George Michael, to unsung heroes like intersex campaigner Pidgeon Pagonis (did you know that globally there are a similar amount of intersex people as red heads? I didn’t!).
I come to The Queer Bible as someone that wants to learn more about my own community’s history – to learn about people different from me, and explore what we have in common. I want queer people to not just survive, but to thrive, knowing that they walk in the footsteps of the bravest, fiercest, most inspiring people to walk the face of the planet.
The person I am today has been shaped and influenced by so many queer heroes. The soundtrack to my life has been queer culture: laughter with my first gay best friend Kele, solace in the writings of James Baldwin, Walt Whitman’s magic words made me fly, Bronski Beat released my tears, Audre Lorde gave me strength, I sung karaoke to George Michael’s ‘Freedom’, I worshipped the stars of ‘Paris Is Burning’, I drank with Drag Queens till sunlight when I ran off to New York aged eighteen.
In these politically unstable times, with LGBTQIA rights under threat the world over, this
book and celebrating queer culture couldn’t be more necessary – connecting us through our shared history, and allowing people to tell their own stories in their own voices.
From the outset, I saw The Queer Bible as a platform to elevate, celebrate and amplify the voices of our community. It is also, most importantly, a celebration! These stories will make you laugh, cry and want to blare your favourite queer tunes out and dance! Pride started as a protest, but it is also about celebrating despite those that would silence us.
I’m so happy that this collection shines a light on members of our community who so often aren’t given the attention or accolades they deserve. I hope that the range of voices, the varied stories, and the memories shared speak to the richness and diversity of our global queer community. We stand on the shoulders of giants.
IMMERSE YOURSELF IN QUEER CULTURE THIS PRIDE:
First up, here are a few of my favourite LGBTQ+ books:
Orlando by Virginia Woolf – way ahead of its time, an exploration of gender, sexuality and
personal continuity over time. If you want to just watch the film, Sally Potter’s version starring Tilda Swinton and Titanic‘s Billy Zane is genius.
The Velvet Rage by Alan Downs – this book saved my life. Downs explores how growing up
queer in straight world damages you and offers a path towards healing and self acceptance.
Reading this book just makes you a better person.
The Book Of Queer Prophets – Ruth Hunt’s collection of essays reconciling and wrestling
with religion and sexuality.
Me by Elton John – my dream-come-true Queer Bible contributor charts his epic life in this
brilliantly written memoir. This man has LIVED. The story about hiding from Andy Warhol
made me wet myself a little bit. Add in his work with the Elton John AIDS Foundation and
you’ve got yourself a living legend.
Go and visit your favourite queer venue – support your local drag queens!
My favourite venues are The Glory, The Royal Vauxhall Tavern and The Queen Of Adelaide.
I can’t wait till we can dance again on a sweaty dance floor.
Watch Queer Bible contributor Mae Martin’s Feel Good on Netflix – hilarious, important, and brilliantly written. Plus, it has Lisa Kudrow in it.. doesn’t get better!
THE QUEER BIBLE, edited by Jack Guinness, is published on 17th June in hardback,
eBook and Audio Download (HQ, £20)