queerstory

This fabulous docuseries shows that queer history will not be denied

The Sacred Band of Thebes as depicted on discovery+’s The Book of Queer

History, unsurprisingly, is full of fabulous, influential queers. Also unsurprising: you may not have learned about them in school—or maybe you did but they were conveniently straight-washed by an educational system that in recent years has somehow only gotten more invested in erasing queer people’s place in history.

So much so, that Florida student Will Larkin’s history class presentation on the Stonewall uprising is being investigated by their high school.

“I wonder how different my childhood would have been had my classmates and I known that I wasn’t some tragic anomaly, a strange fluke that needed to be fixed,” Larkin wondered in a recent New York Times op-ed.

Like, for instance, if Larkin’s teachers had been able to impart any info about not only this pivotal moment in the fight for LGBTQ rights, but the many, many other queer contributions to history.

Now, just in time for Pride, discovery+ is stepping in to help expand our awareness of queer history with its new series The Book of Queer. Premiering June 2, the five episode docuseries explores the gloriously queer moments that helped shaped world history.

The streaming platform has brought together a roster of queer academics—including award-winning historian Eric Cervini—to curate the stories of notable trailblazers. And they’re all brought to life by a cavalcade of queer performers. Miss Vanjie, GOTTMIK, Kim Chi and tons of others star in irreverently funny—and informative—historical reenactments narrated by Margaret Cho, Dominique Jackson, Leslie Jordan, Alex Newell and Ross Matthews.

We’re talking true tales of the Stonewall uprising—which re-centers Black and trans people like Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson. The show will revisit the groundbreaking accomplishments of familiar icons like Harvey Milk, Ma Rainey and Josephine Baker.

Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson and Stormé DeLarverie as seen in The Book of Queer

And it will delve into the queerness of better-known historical figures. Maybe you’ve heard gay rumors about Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo or even Abraham Lincoln? Well, The Book of Queer goes deep on the same-sex evidence in ways your high school history teacher couldn’t. Also, King James? As in The Bible? Yeah, him too.

And it turns out queers were forging paths as far back as the ancient world. Alongside Alexander the Great and the poet Sappho, the series also explores the history of The Sacred Band of Thebes, a literal army of lovers. And you thought 300 was homoerotic.

In the grand tradition of School House Rock, each episode caps off with an original music video by queer artists like Betty Who, VINCINT and Mila Jam.

Whether you’re a history buff or, you know, just the gym kind of buff, get ready to take copious notes. We queers were always here.