When it comes to LGBTQ history, there is a lot missing from the standard texts taught in school. The Book of Queer aims to fill in those gaps with colorful sketches about LGBTQ historical figures such as Abraham Lincoln and Bayard Rustin. For queer historian Eric Cervini, who executive produced the series, shining light on these monumental individuals is what it is all about.
“Above all, The Book of Queer is about representation and authenticity. In Hollywood, these things have been missing and so many of our stories that have been told have forgotten the real queer people behind the stories,” Cervini told LGBTQ Nation, adding that he expects audiences will be surprised. “These stories go back to the dawn of humanity, stories we’ve always been a part of.”
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Cervini appears in The Book of Queer along with LGBTQ celebrities who lend their voices as narrators for the series, including Pose’s Dominique Jackson and legendary actor Leslie Jordan. They all have different reasons for wanting to be a part of this groundbreaking series.
For Jackson, “Any time there is anything about bringing visibility to the community, I want to be a part of it. Queer people believe that they’re not a part of history but they are.”
And she knows exactly why that is.
“So many people try to erase our history and I want our community and all the younger people a part of it to know that they do have a place in history and a history they can look up to,” she told LGBTQ Nation.
For Jordan, it was an incredible learning experience. And he wonders why it wasn’t made before. Cervini can answer that question.
“Most LGBTQ history that is taught is tragic, most people know that and they primarily focus on that history. But there’s a lot of joy in LGBTQ history. We wanted to show that and share these different stories. So, we finally decided it was time to tell our history and created a television series with the largest out LGBTQ cast in television history.”
And for Cervini, Jackson, and Jordan, The Book of Queer is a necessity for the media landscape. And a lot of that has to do with Cervini’s main purpose: representation.
“So often, non-LGBTQ creators have profited off our tragedy and now Hollywood has a moral obligation as creators to be a better example of how representation should work,” he said.
Jackson echoes those sentiments, adding, “When we search for anything these days, everything that pops up is nothing but negative things. Our community isn’t solely about tragedy and sex. We have a history that is filled with accomplishments and achievements.”
For Jordan, he sees the series as a necessary move forward when considering all of the anti-LGBTQ legislatures that are sweeping the country.
“We’ve been through so much and for the longest time, being who we are was against the law,” he told LGBTQ Nation. “And it’s so timely now with everything that is going on. I hope that this series is able to reach people within and outside our community to better understand us and work to protect us.”
A lot of what Jordan says is what Cervini hopes is found in a viewing audience.
“If there’s one goal we had creating this series, then it’s that we make history fun. Most of the writers behind The Book of Queer are comedians. Regardless of the audience watching, we hope that what we portray is funny. That people will love what we have to show and care to make a difference.”
A lot of what Cervini speaks to is what he and both Jackson and Jordan hope audiences take away from The Book of Queer.
“I want audiences to feel hopeful while watching this series. I want them to find this series and learn about the history of their community. I’ve already received so many notes of praise from students and their parents who are grateful to have this resource,” he stated warmly.
Jackson and Jordan hope The Book of Queer becomes a great resource also.
“My hope is that anyone viewing this will know parts of our history. We shouldn’t be discriminated against and yet we’ve been fighting for years for visibility and now I hope people can feel visible,” Jackson said proudly.
Jordan wants this to be an education of sorts.
“It’s entertaining but there is an importance to learning so many things that aren’t a part of history that should be taught.”
But all three have a message for anyone at home watching:
“We have a duty to continue telling our history, especially in states that are trying to erase our history. We’re so passionate about this series because of the anti-Trans legislature and the Don’t Say Gay bill. By learning history, we are better equipped to go up against this legislature with strength and not shame.”
And that’s a call to action. The Book of Queer premieres 6/2 on Discovery+.