Review: Queer, There, and Everywhere by Sarah Prager

Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Title: Queer, There, and Everywhere
Author: Sarah Prager
Genre: nonfiction
Series: N/A
Pages: 272
Published: May 23 2017
Source: publishers via edelweiss
Rating: 3/5

This first-ever LGBTQ history book for young adults will appeal to fans of fun, empowering pop-culture books like  Rad American Women A-Z and Notorious RBG.

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 22 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.

By turns hilarious and inspiring, the beautifully illustrated Queer, There, and Everywhere is for anyone who wants the real story of the queer rights movement.

I finished Queer, There, and Everywhere even though I admittedly came close to DNFing at one time. There are many good points to this nonfiction about marginalized people throughout history but there are problematic elements to it, as well. It's presented in a very readable and simple style; it's accessible and the contents can be both moving and hopeful. The twenty-three stories included are varied in their length and amount of detail provided, though this is sadly very dominated by North American and European figures.*

I love that the aim of Queer, There and Everywhere was a concentrated effort to showcase the lives of people often ignored through history -- people that the mainstream chose to silence or ignore or censor. However, there are some odd choices the book makes while doing so. For the most part, this serves as a good, if rather shallow, introduction to the varied stories of many gay and lesbian and intersex icons and heroes. But historical figures are also labelled as having been on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum for little more than the clothing they chose to wear (i.e. Joan of Arc's inclusion). It doesn't exactly hold up to historical scrutiny.

In addition to the overall whiteness of the biographies, there were also uncomfortable interstitial third-person POVs from the people themselves. It felt.. appropriative? They were entirely unnecessary and distracted from the stronger, more factual sections about each person. I get the author was trying to personalize each person's life and unique situation but it was uncomfortable and redundant at best.

Despite a few issues, Queer, There, and Everywhere is conversationally informative nonfiction debut and would lend itself well to becoming a series. Though hopefully one with more of a global roster of biographies.

*the author notes a lack of sources for other races and cultures but it needs to be noted that this isn't very racially diverse.

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