Thanks to the likes of LGBT History Month and charities such as Stonewall, we now have a greater awareness of how far the LGBTQ+ community has come in its ongoing struggle for equality in the UK (and how far we all have to go). But many people still have gaping holes in their knowledge of queer culture and its impact.
This is where The Queer Bible comes in, a new website dedicated to the transformative lives of various queer heroes, or 'Queeroes'. Created by model and presenter Jack Guinness, the online guide asks big name writers to wax lyrical about their icons of choice and it promises to teach you a thing or two.
Award-winning writer, campaigner and Refinery29 contributor Paris Lees dedicates an essay to Laverne Cox, while Amelia Abraham explores the lives of Cookie Mueller, David Wojnarowicz and Stuart Feather, and Nathalie Olah discusses the life of Eileen Myles. Other celebrated Queeroes include Frida Kahlo, Prince and Vanessa Bell.
"LGBTQ+ people really have to seek out positive role models," Guinness told Refinery29. "They have to find a family and inspirations to help them explore who they are and construct their identity. We often don’t get the help of our peers or birth family. Too often young queer people have to do that alone. I wanted to make a space where learning about the queer community, especially the people that went before us, is easier."
While there are some great resources out there, such as Robert Aldrich’s book Gay Life Stories and Instagram accounts like The Aids Memorial, he wanted to bring together the perspectives of some of his own heroes to talk about their heroes.
"Growing up in a straight world, so many people feel rejected and separate and pushed away. The Queer Bible is a way of connecting – to our current community and also the heroes that went before us: the artists, activists, writers, performers that have shaped culture and history. It’s a bloody amazing line-up. These guys are our people! I want young LGBTQ+ to take ownership of that," Guinness added.
He was inspired to create the platform by the singer Sam Smith. Guinness told i-d: "Remember at the Oscars when Sam thought he was the first gay person to win an Oscar and everyone went crazy at him for not knowing queer history? Sam got so much grief on Twitter... Whatever you think about what Sam said, it really challenged me, how well do I know my queer history?"
Already, Guinness has been floored by the positive feedback The Queer Bible has received. One man, in the process of coming out, wrote to him to say the project had been a real comfort, while a woman told him she wished there had been something like it when she was younger.
"For years, I felt that being gay was something wrong with me. It was the reason why I got bullied and I was made to feel ashamed of it. Now that very part of me makes me feel accepted and loved and connected to this amazing community. The very thing that caused pain as a young man is now the source of so much joy. It’s all quite overwhelming and I’m excited to see how the Queer Bible community grows."