Audre Lorde by Tanya Compas

AUNTIE: ‘I have never had an elder to turn to for advice about love, life or relationships from a non-heterosexual lens, let alone somebody to speak to about activism and community. Audre Lorde became that person for me, through her work I had questions answered and worries alleviated. I felt comforted.’

Illustration by Amir Khadar

Anne Lister by Edie Campbell

THE DIARIST: ‘Anne Lister is someone I return to, when things get muddled and life requires a courage that I cannot muster from within. Anne was born in 1791, the heiress to a large estate in Yorkshire. She forced herself back into the world in the 1970s, when her diaries were discovered behind a panel at her home, Shibden Hall. They have have been described as “the Dead Sea scrolls of lesbian history”. ‘

Illustration by Sam Russell Walker

Edward Carpenter by Victoria Roskams

THE INSPIRATOR: ‘A touch on the buttocks was how I first heard about Edward Carpenter. Not my own, but E.M. Forster’s. Immersed in Forster’s gay classic Maurice, I read at the end how the author had been, miraculously, impregnated with the idea for the novel’s cross-class fantasy by a touch on the buttocks he had… received from one George Merrill, lover of Edward Carpenter.’

Illustration by Jon McCormack

James Baldwin by Tonderai Munyevu

THE NATIVE SON: ‘There I was a 13 year old boy having just moved from Zimbabwe in the cold 1996 weather. Grappling with the biting cold, the school bullies and just being away from the sun and all the things that I knew and loved… I would retreat to the library, if I was not in my bedroom dancing to you know who (’96 was the Spice Girls zenith). So it was I found Harlesden library and James Baldwin’s Just Above My Head. ‘

Illustration by Jannelly

U.A. Fanthorpe by Rosalind Jana

AS ATLAS DID: ‘U.A. Fanthorpe. A particular favourite of my mum’s. I’d borrowed her Selected Poems to pack in my suitcase, the cover complete with a black and white portrait of the smiling writer looking eminently sensible in a striped shirt, knitted waistcoat, and glasses… Her work was by turns eerie, pragmatic and gently funny, steeped in history and myth. I immediately found myself entranced.’

Illustration by Sam Russell Walker

Hans Christian Andersen by Sacha Coward

THE TALE TELLER:‘‘I have discovered that myths and legends, and in particular mermaids have a deep deep queer soul. The man who really precipitated this eureka moment was Hans Christian Andersen. A man I think most people think they know through his charming stories and fairytales, but they probably don’t know the other side: a biromantic and sexually frustrated artist, tortured by rejection, which he poured into his writing.’

Illustration by Sam Russell Walker

Natalie Barney by Martha Perotto-Wills

THE LESBIAN POPE: ‘Natalie met her first girlfriend at 17, her last on a park bench when she was 80. In her teens she moved to France – having realised that good girls stay in Ohio, but gay girls go to Paris – where she lived for the rest of her life.’

Illustration by Fernando Monroy 

Gia Carangi by Hanna Hanra

THE SUPERMODEL: ‘Gia Carangi was the first supermodel, but hers is a tragic story. Born in Philadelphia in 1960, her Italian / Irish parents were often violent and unstable; her mum walked out when Gia was just 11. At high school, Gia befriended a group of kids who were obsessed with David Bowie. She too was drawn to him, with his weird glam style and his waft of bisexuality that bent the hard lines that defined gender. How could you not be?’

Illustration by Fernando Monroy

My Beautiful Laundrette by Shrai Popat

POWDER: ‘Long before Elio and Oliver were lingering among Crema’s porticos in Call Me by Your Name, Johnny and Omar were sharing stolen moments around Wandsworth… They laugh. They kiss in alleyways, in Omar’s car, even in the laundrette. They craft a universe that is theirs and theirs alone, and that was, and still is in queer cinema, so radical.’

 Illustration by Surya Shekhar

Beth Jordache by Stephanie Matthews

THE KISS: ‘In 1994 Brookside’s Beth Jordache made British TV history, with the first pre watershed lesbian kiss. It was an iconic moment for me and the UK TV viewing population when Beth, played by Anna Friel, kissed the family nanny… A simple and tender kiss paved the way for my coming out, the start of better on screen LGBT+ representation and the gradual acceptance of lesbians in mainstream society.’

Illustration by Nova Dando

Barbara Hammer by Amanda Borg

THE PIONEER: ‘Barbara Hammer questions the boundaries of what a lesbian avant-garde can look like and be. It is not just an aesthetic but a way of caring for and loving other women, be it in the form of an interpersonal relationship or a wider network of intimacies.’

Illustration by Elena Durey.

IN CONVERSATION: Luke Turner with Paul Flynn

OUT OF THE WOODS: Author Luke is the perfect Queer Bible subject. He ticks both ‘queer’ (on account of his bisexuality) and ‘biblical’ (due to his Methodist Vicar father) boxes… He is stricken not just by his desire for women and men, but by that unique curse of independent thought in a generic capital.

Illustration by Jon McCormack

Interview: Stuart Milk of The Harvey Milk Foundation

THE MARTYR: This week marks the 40th anniversary of the assassination of campaigner Harvey Milk. ‘One of the conversations that people like Desmond Tutu always say about Harvey is this is someone who martyred themselves, who knew they were putting their, that they would likely… I mean it was not Hollywood. Harvey knew that he was gonna be assassinated. He knew that was the trajectory of the civil rights movement.’

Illustration by Sam Russell Walker

Bronski Beat ‘The Age of Consent’ by Paul Flynn

SMALL TOWN BOYS: EXCLUSIVE! We are publishing Paul Flynn’s sleeve-notes written for the anniversary re-release of Bronski Beat’s ‘The Age Of Consent’. “This record came out when I was 13 years old. It laid out documentary emotions, song by song, beat by beat, on how to navigate life as a gay man, at a time when turning into one felt like it might be just about the most ostracizing thing in the world.”

Illustration by Fernando Monroy 

B-52s by Nick Levine

LOVE SHACK: "Not until 1992 did someone ask us about being gay… It was almost more subversive that we didn’t talk about it. We were just trying to be ourselves. Being gay was just a part of it. That’s really how we wanted the world to be, you know? You just do your thing and your sexual orientation is just a part of it. I think it was kind of more revolutionary because of that.“

Illustration by Sam Russell Walker

E. M. Forster's Maurice by Andy Stewart MacKay

THE FIRST: 'As the first queer British novel, E. M. Forster’s Maurice is a powerful story about pain and loss, self-realisation and finding one’s place in the world… Don’t be distracted by the period anachronisms; Maurice is a radical and subversive call to the future, it’s message as urgent now as it was a century ago.'

Illustration by Sam Russell Walker

Elton Hercules John by Raven Smith

THE LEGEND: ‘In retrospect Elton’s persona never wholly straight or gay. He always been ambiguous—hyper masculine to the point of brutishness, and yet so deeply in touch with his bubbling emotions. He’s a metronome ticking back and forth, ready to slap you or kiss you.’

Illustration by Fernando Monroy