If you’re a fan of celebrity biographical/personal websites then you’ve, no doubt, seen some of the work of Keith Stern. He’s the man behind the site for some pretty big names in the entertainment industry like one he’s currently doing for the actor Sir Ian McKellen and the ones for Sean Astin, Spinal Tap and the late actress Lynn Redgrave, to name a few.
Stern took his considerable experience creating these sites and, in fact, all of his experience in various facets of the entertainment industry and he used that knowledge and his considerable research skills to write the book, Queers in History: The Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Historical Gays, Lesbians and Bisexuals. He first self published this as a book as Queers in History using LuLu press in 2006. It was a whopping 494 pages. This version (first printing in 2009), is now 608 pages and it contains an amazing 850 biographies of famous people throughout history that were either gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Now, famous includes not only the entertainment industry people he knows well, but people from all fields across a vast stretch of time. You see, it all started, as his introduction will tell you, while he was reading an article about Leonardo da Vinci…
Keith Stern is openly gay. He’s admittedly fascinated every time he picks up a new article or book that mentions that some historical figure was thought to have been gay or known to have been gay. He states in his intro (I’m paraphrasing) that while he feels these people may have become famous regardless of the LGBT background, once he, himself realizes their sexual orientation he can often see, in retrospect, how it influenced the arc of their careers.
The initial layout of the book is alphabetical but it’s also fully indexed to help you find notables by profession, by birthplace and/or by year of birth. Many of the people profiled have a photograph as well to give the reader a bit more perspective.
This book is fascinating both from a GLBT historical standpoint but from an overall history standpoint. If you like history and you love biographies, you’re going to love this. It will be something you’ll refer to again and again over time. I already do.