Bibliophile | ‘The Queer Bible’ presents love letter to queer community

The Queer Bible
Edited by Jack Guinness
HQ (Harper Collins)

Jack Guinness shines a light on some unacknowledged LGBTIQ+ history with stories of a group of LGBTIQ+ people who have inspired others and helped shape the world into being a better place. He wants people to know that “they walk in the footsteps of the bravest, fiercest, most inspiring people to walk the face of the planet”.

Twenty-four contributing writers share deeply personal anecdotes of how someone or a group of people has impacted their lives – role models who showed you could be lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex or queer and be worthy of finding a place in a world that was traditionally only open to heterosexual cisgender people. You could even create a unique part of the world and still be celebrated.

Many of the contributors grew up in 1980s Britain where AIDS homo-hysteria and the section 28 act in British Parliament ostracised the LGBTIQ+ population using the government, the church, the police and the media. As Peter Tatchell says in his paper on the 80s decade of state-sanctioned homophobia – “It was open season on queers”.

Meanwhile, role models gave young people hope. Quentin Crisp remained undeniably camp, David Bowie crossed gendered lines and Black British lesbians led the way for the rest of the community in how to protest. Jack Guinness cites RuPaul – “a 6.5 foot-tall black siren in a ginormous blonde wig, calling me out from my miserable beigey life and promising to take me away to somewhere fabulous”.

Co-founder of All About Trans, Paris Lees, has the Vogue editor Edward Enninful to thank for opening up her world and advocate for intersex human rights Hanne Gaby Odiele honours Pidgeon Pagonis for being her mentor.

Underground films by John Waters with his muse Divine challenged the status quo and films such as Paris is Burning and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert provided inspiration. Even Queer Eye for the Straight Guy made a huge impact to break through bigotry.

Then there’s Tim Curry who wooed everyone with his gender fluidity in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, allowing all of us to explore different aspects of our sexuality with his anthem – “Don’t dream it. Be it.” As Guinness says, this book is a love letter to the queer community.

Lezly Herbert

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