Elton Hercules John by Raven Smith

THE LEGEND: ‘In retrospect Elton’s persona never wholly straight or gay. He always been ambiguous—hyper masculine to the point of brutishness, and yet so deeply in touch with his bubbling emotions. He’s a metronome ticking back and forth, ready to slap you or kiss you.’

Illustration by Fernando Monroy 

Ellen by Sophie Wilkinson

THE SHOW WOMAN: 'Ellen Morgan, the titular character of Ellen the sitcomcouldn’t hold a guy down, so bigwigs at ABC suggested she get a puppy. But Ellen - the person - had better ideas. After all, her character’s unconvincing straightness had caused a wane in the show's popularity, and the tabloids, armed with an inkling of Ellen’s true sexuality, had long used rumours to paint in the gaps. She was done trying to thicken the line between her public and private lives.' 

Illustration by Elena Durey

Pete Burns by Rhyannon Styles

GENDER FUCK: "I was a young boy coming to terms with being effeminate, queer and trans who desperately wanted to escape the chastity of my small village life and find my own place in queer culture just like they had done. Through Pete’s femme presentation I was able to begin piecing together my own queer identity, and an idea of what my future might look like."

Illustration by Elena Durey.

Tove Jansson by Rosalind Jana

THE MOOMIN CREATOR: ‘I’ve adored Tove Jansson for a long time. Like plenty of kids, I spent hours in the company of Little My, Snufkin, Snork Maiden, and the whole Moomin clan. As a teenager recovering from spinal surgery, I was drawn back to that world of valleys, storms, theatrical antics, proprietary Hemulens and perfect stretches of sea, finding it deeply comforting when so much was beyond control.’

Illustration by Louise Pomeroy

Pauli Murray by Rev Broderick Greer

THE REV: ‘Murray was, in a sense, prophetic in her early analysis of racism, sexism, and heterosexism. The prescience of her vision has caused her to become a patron saint, of sorts, for black queer people who often feel erased in fragmented conversations about race, sexual orientation, and gender identity. ‘

Illustration by Sam Russell Walker

Billie Jean King by Louis Staples

THE TENNIS STAR: “I was daydreaming about my little tiny universe of tennis, and I thought to myself: ‘Everybody’s wearing white shoes, white socks, white clothes, playing with white balls, everybody who plays is white. Where is everybody else?’ That was the moment I decided to fight for equality and freedom and equal rights and opportunities for everyone. Everyone. Not just girls. Everyone.”

Illustration by Elena Durey 

Quentin Crisp by Mark Moore

THE DANDY: 'Mr Crisp came from the early part of the 20th century where I’m sure he felt the full brunt of the agony of being queer, so I get why he felt the way he did in his brave, ironic and self-deprecating way. However, the timing of The Naked Civil Servant on TV – just before the punk revolution of 1976 – was serendipitous. Mr Crisp’s mix of narcissism and self-loathing, his ability to upset those who wanted him to tow the PC line, the shock tactics and the nihilism, it was all very punk.'

Illustration by Fernando Monroy ​​​​​​​based a photograph by Andrew MacPherson

Interview: Sir Ian McKellen Part II

‘When you come out you become politicised because you start making connections with other people. So we don’t know each other but we’re intimate because we’ve both been on the same journey, different sorts, but it’s been the same journey. It’s the same if you met somebody in South Africa or Moscow. You become an internationalist and you begin to see that the local laws here don’t fit in with your view of human nature and what it can be. Then life becomes really exciting, thrilling and in changing your own life you’re changing the lives of other people.’

Illustration by Fernando Monroy

Interview: Sir Ian McKellen Part I

'But everyone’s frightened society’s gonna collapse, can you imagine? People having children and then having affairs with the opposite gender, how does that work? Well let them work it out. Did you want to become mainstream, did you want to get married, did you want to behave like a straight person even though you were gay, or did you want to change society and make it different and encourage all the straight people to be like us? Have sex with whoever we wanted, whenever we wanted, however we wanted. A whole new world.’

Illustration by Fernando Monroy

ARCA by Dan Guthrie

THE QUEER UPSTART: “What queerness is as a word, what it represents, is ideological. The word itself is trying to define something that is undefinable. The word queer has shifted meaning because it's allowed it; it's whatever doesn't fit in.” - Alejandro Ghersi

Illustration by Fernando Monroy

Joan Nestle by Meghan Walley

THE ARCHIVIST: Nestle was an iconoclast. Beginning in the 1970s, she wrote erotica, which not only had Women Against Pornography calling for the censorship of her stories, but drew criticism from some factions of the lesbian community. In her writing, she focused on butch-femme relationships, with the intention of showing that “the butch and femme relationship isn't just some negative heterosexual aping.”

Illustration by Elena Durey

S. Bear Bergman by Meg-John Barker

THE ADVICE GIVER: 'When I was asked to write about Bear for Queer Bible I assumed that I’d focus on how he’s inspired me as a genderqueer trans-masculine person, as a writer, and as an advice-giver - probably the three key aspects of our lives that we share. But I actually think that the biggest thing Bear gave me was that hope that I would be able to find my own family...'

Illustration by Elena Durey

Hart Crane by Rob Nowill

THE POET: 'I discovered Hart Crane because of an arrow. Specifically, an arrow painted in the bottom-right of Periscope, a Jasper Johns painting that I’d seen at an exhibition, aged nineteen. A perfunctory note explained that the arrow was a tribute to Crane, a modernist poet who’d ended his life by throwing himself from the deck of a steamer ship.'

Illustration by Sam Russell Walker

Peter Hujar by Harald Smart

DOWNTOWN PHOTOGRAPHER: 'Subversive, charismatic and vehemently true to himself, Hujar walked an unconventional path, chronicling the precarious lives around him with a brilliant eye, until his premature, AIDS-related death at the age of fifty-three.'

Illustration by Fernando Monroy

Call Me By Your Name and The Folding Star by Jon Malysiak

'Alan Hollinghurst's The Folding Star and Andre Aciman’s Call Me By Your Name, are essential reading for the queer community, 'These two novels – both products of the very different years (2011 and 1994 respectively) in which they were written – represent the best of what “gay literature” has to offer us.'

Illustration by Fernando Monroy