Dan Jones, author of 50 Drag Queens Who Changed the World and several books about cocktails, keeps things entertaining in this overview of fifty queer mythic heroes. He writes like your campy gay friend who studied religion in college and calls the Norse god Loki “mythology’s sloppy frat bro” and the Greek god Pan “the hairy-legged goat-daddy of the eternal cruising grounds.” Queer Heroes is a quick read, a good starting point for readers who want to learn about queer myths and legends before delving into the topic more deeply.
Roughly a third of the book is devoted to Greek and Roman mythology. Jones discusses many of the ancient world’s most famous queer icons, such as Achilles and Patroclus (a “tragic, musclebound love story”) and Zeus (“the busiest bisexual the mythical world has ever known”). However, he also discusses lesser-known figures such as Iphis, who changed gender from female to male, and Baubo, who exposed her vulva to cheer up the goddess Demeter.
Jones also covers many figures from other cultures, like gender-swapping Princess Budur from One Thousand and One Nights, Tu’er Shen (a queer Taiwanese rabbit god), and the Inuit spirit Sedna. His book includes some historical figures, like the Daughters of Bilitis and the Minoan Brotherhood (a gay Wiccan group founded in the 1970s), but also characters from contemporary literature and popular culture. LGBT people tend to find inspiration wherever we can, so why not look to Yara Greyjoy from Game of Thrones or video-game icon Zelda? Queer heroes can be found in some unusual places.