The exploits of the famous never cease to captivate our imaginations—rulers, artists, explorers, and all the great personalities of history. Yet many quieter lives also have the ability to impress, to teach us something about the remarkable qualities of human nature.
In this book, Robert Aldrich presents a fascinating portrait of gay men and women throughout history that reveals the full diversity of gay lives as lived in their times. He gives a voice to more than seventy people from around the world and all walks of life, from poets, philosophers, and artists to radicals and activists. Along with celebrated names such as Michelangelo, Frederick the Great, and Harvey Milk are lesser-known but no less inspiring individuals: two men of ancient Egypt whose lives were closely linked over four thousand years ago; a Renaissance nun who blurred the boundaries between spiritual and physical love; and “Aimée” and “Jaguar,” whose love defied the death camps of wartime Germany.
Often colorful, occasionally tragic, but all in some way extraordinary, these life stories reflect—and have sometimes helped to shape—contemporary attitudes toward same-sex intimacy.
While outlining the lives of those concerned, the articles seem to capture the essence of a person and the era, culture, or society that person embodies… This lavishly illustrated, praiseworthy book deserves to be widely read.
…the gay history book that needs to be read.
While none of the pieces here is more than a few pages long, each of them feels like the tip of an information iceberg.
— Passport Magazine
Nicely illustrated with a good selection of black-and-white and full-color photographs and drawings.
Highly recommended, for reference, or plain, enjoyable reading.
— Lavender Magazine
Robert Aldrich is Professor of European History at the University of Sydney. He is the author of The Seduction of the Mediterranean and Colonialism and Homosexuality and edited Gay Life and Culture.