I was over at my favorite northside indie book shop, Chicago Comics, when I came upon Keith Stern‘s freshly printed encyclopedia, Queers in History. DUH, I needed a copy. With over 900 mini-biographies of people, this guide goes all the way back to 2450 BC. There is a handy index which arranges the entries by date of birth, country of birth and profession, and its first time in print, Stern first published this as a CD-ROM in 1991 (remember those?). So happy that he is still doing this kind of work! The contemporary bios, maybe because we live in such out times, were the least revelatory but maybe that’s also because I’ve been obsessed with outness since I was a grungy kid. There are a few questionable inclusions – the sincere attempt at being comprehensive possibly made room for celebrity mongering. Among those that I shrugged off: Madonna, River Phoenix, Angelina Jolie, and Marylin Monroe. That said, there are hundreds of authors, artists, choreographers and painters that need more queer documentation. For instance, this past year I went to see Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s anniversary tour and it started with this retrospective film about Ailey’s life and work. In the 25 minute film, not once did they mention he was gay or that he died of AIDS. As a life-long student of queer life and history, this book is essential as a jumping off point. Sweet!