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‘Queer: A Graphic History’ by Meg-John Barker and Julia Scheele

‘Queer: A Graphic History’ by Meg-John Barker and Julia Scheele

Author: Parrish Turner

November 15, 2016

Queer: A Graphic History by Meg-John Barker and Julia Scheele sets out to be a guide; to sum up the history of queer theory and activism. With text and graphics, this book breaks down the evolution of queer politics. From early sexology to post-queer critiques of homonormativity, Queer is an illustrated roadmap of the mutating and expanding theories that serve under the banner of “queer theory.”

This is a history with a distinct perspective. We often expect nonfiction histories to offer a nonpartisan perspective, but Barker critiques various theories as they are presented. While the book often offers necessary critiques, they occasionally muddle the message of the specific theorist or era.

The graphics throughout are excellent. As a visual learner, I found the images often gave a grounding for the complex theories. Quotes were often tied with depictions of the theorist, which I found to be effective. As queer theory grew, so did the diversity of theorists, which becomes all the clearer when faces can be attached to the work. We can see how a few white men were joined in conversation by women, genderqueer folk, and many people of color.

Queer sells itself as a guide to queer theory for all, but I do not know if this is an accurate statement. I came to this book having already had the privilege of education. I was able to take classes on queer theory during college and was already familiar with these topics. This take would make an excellent companion to these queer theory classes. But I don’t feel confident that this text provides everything a person would want to know in order to understand many of the theories it presents.

For the curious reader, Queer is a great primer that will open ideas and start a great search for even more details. Perfect for when you find yourself stuck in conversations outside of your small talk repertoire. This book will make a great addition to your library of queer essentials.

Queer: A Graphic History
By Meg-John Barker (Author) and Julia Scheele (Illustrator)
Icon Books
Hardcover, 9781606999721, 100 pp.
November 2016

Parrish Turner photo

About: Parrish Turner

Parrish Turner is a queer writer who hails from Georgia. He holds his MFA from The New School, with a focus in creative nonfiction. His work has been featured on The Rumpus and Gertrude Press. You can learn more at

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