Review Blog

May 17 2019

Queer heroes by Arabelle Sicardi

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Illus. by Sarah Tanat-Jones. Quarto Publishing, 2019. ISBN: 9781786034861.
(Ages: 10+) Highly recommended. Themes: LGBTQ, Difference, Heroes and heroines. Subtitled, Meet 52 LGBTQ heroes from past and present, this brightly inviting book does just that. Each page is devoted to one person who has advocated the LGBTQ cause. From Sappho in Ancient Greece to Krsten Stewart, from Da Vince to Harvey Milk, from Tchaikovsky to Khalid Abdle-Hadi, the coverage is amazing, including people from all continents, ethnic backgrounds and positions in society.
Many will be well known to younger readers, but equally, many will be unknown, informing the reader about people new to them. Readers will love reading about people like Freddie Mercury and David Bowie, Sia and Tim Cook, but will be equally fascinated by stories of people like Virginia Wolfe, Vikram Seth, Nobuko Yoshiya and Josephine Baker.
Each of the stories gives an outline of their lives, where and when they were born (and died) and the journey they took in being accepted. Sometimes the article is ended with a quote which for some encapsulates their life's work.
Subhi Nahas for example has a page devoted to him, his portrait surrounded by many flags and we see that he was born in 1988 in Idlib in Syria. Pursued by the military for being gay he fled Syria to Turkey where he became an activist, but as things changed there, he fled again to the USA. Here he set up a group called Spectra Project an organisation promoting the cause of LGBTQ refugees around the world.
Several people like Frida Khalo, for example have two pages devoted to their story. Frida was an artist born in Mexico in 1907 and her work as one of the twentieth century's best artists as well as her work promoting feminism and civil rights have been widely recognised.
Another person, Lili Elbe, born in 1992 in Denmark has had her story recognised through the film, The Danish Girl. She was born a male and fought hard to have her transgender status recognised and to have gender reassignment surgery. Her story is all the more astounding when she was having this ground breaking surgery in the first years of the twentieth century.
A wonderful read, presenting both known and little known activists in this field, the book will be a hit on the library shelves. I read it as a dip in, lamenting the publisher's decision not to include either a contents page or index, limiting its ease of use, but the content easily outweighs this consideration.
Fran Knight

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