Written by Lewis Laney, author of 2020’s “The Little Book of Pride”, 365 Gays of the Year (Plus 1 for a Leap Year) celebrates notable queer icons throughout history to the present day. Some you will definitely be familiar with and some you will have likely never heard of but each individual has undoubtably, in their own way, made a significant contribution to queer history.
Legendary queer icons such as Marsha P Johnson and Freddie Mercury sit alongside lesser known but equally important names such as activist Renée Cafiero, blood donor Barbara Vick, and Sappho the lesbian poet (who was doing her thing in 570BC). All have contributed amazing achievements to the LGBTQ+ story. Each month also features one ally – inspiring heterosexual people who have all contributed something significant to the lives of the LGBTQ+ community. People like Elizabeth Taylor who “brought AIDS out of the closet and into the ballroom – where there was money to be raised”.
Featuring original illustrations by Charlotte MacMillan-Scott, 365 Gays of the Year offers a bitesized introduction to these individuals or groups, with each figure attached as closely as possible to a date or month significant to their achievements. Laney has meticulously researched each one to provide an unparalleled compendium of LGBT+ excellence and an easy jumping-off point to learn more about these fascinating individuals.
Laney says: “The reasons people are featured in this book are wide-ranging. Some are tied to one specific, notable act that is integral to our history. Many have spent their lives fighting for the rights of LGBTQ+ people, while others have excelled in their fields and made outstanding contributions to society and just happen to be queer. The allies included in this book have all contributed something significant to the lives of LGBTQ+ people too. I can’t fit them all in the book, but we are grateful they are by our sides. The stories of women, people of colour and the financially underprivileged are also often under-recorded however I strived to make this list as diverse as possible. The LGBTQIA+ acronym has grown to encompass more and more letters over the years, and you’ll find it used in various forms throughout the book. When using my own voice, I’ve gone with a commonly used standard (LGBTQ+) – but every letter is celebrated here!”
With queer rights yet again under attack around the globe, it’s an entirely refreshing change to receive news of a book like 365 Gays of the Year. What Laney has created serves as a timely reminder that while we have always faced persecution from the white, heteronormative, cis-gender, patriarchal establishment, they have not and will never succeed in erasing our identities. 365 Gays of the Year offers 365+1 reasons to get up every day and keep fighting. We’re here, we’re queer and as long as we have the likes of Laney championing our voices, we will never go quietly.
365 Gays of the Year is available now from all good book shops.