FAMOUS QUEERS

Seven Historical LGBTs California Schools Should Teach About

Yesterday the California assembly signed a bill turning all kids gay requiring public school social studies classes to teach about the LGBT civil rights movement and the historic contributions of queers. It also adds sexual orientation and gender identity to existing anti-discrimination laws.

Democratic Govenor Jerry Brown hasn’t said whether he will sign it or not. He should. And we should expect anti-gay fundies to freak out about schools “forcing students to accept a lifestyle their parents may not agree with.” But seeing as students are also forced to learn about corrupt politicians and military types who sent thousands to die, these fundies should STFU.

The bigger question really is which historically famous LGBTs the schools should include in their curriculum. We have a few unexpected suggestions:

1) Socrates, Alexander the Great, and Herman Melville – The schools should make sure to bring already famous cultural figures out of the closet so all kids will know just how queer their education already is.

2) Lorraine Hansberry, Frida Kahlo, and Eleanor Roosevelt – Don’t forget to take the already famous lesbians and bisexual ladies out of the closet too, especially people of color who normally get overlooked in other classes. Queers represent diversity and our history should too.

3) Roy Cohn – Yes, students should absolutely know about the closeted Angels in America villain who assisted in the McCarthy hearings and later died in the AIDS epidemic. He could be an example of how self-loathing homophobias hurts everyone.

4) Albus Dumbledore – LGBT education also means highlighting famous LGBT characters in literature. That includes Shug Avery in The Color Purple, Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby, and countless Shakespearean characters who fall in love with women dressed as men.

5) Maatkare Hatshepsut – The 5th Pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty of Egypt is not only the first female monarch in recorded history, but she also wore male clothing and a fake beard. The jury’s still out on whether she was a lesbian, but students should know that gays and transsexuals also existed waaaaaay back in history and helped build some of the strongest kingdoms the world has ever known.

6) Billie Jean King – This astounding athlete who won the singles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles titles at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Championships should be part of a larger athletic history that stretches as far back as the Olympic. All kids gay and straight need positive athletic role models, especially strong, talented women who pioneered into predominantly males sports, fundamentally changing the game and breaking world records too.

7) Chaz Bono – He’s just one example of a successful openly-trans media role model. The classes should demonstrate that all parts of LGBT spectrum can achieve success and that their battles and influence persist today and well into the future.

Who do you think should be included in California’s queer curriculum?