Rainbow Revolutionaries: 50 LGBTQ+ People Who Made History

This colorful book for middle graders is a celebration of the many ways these hidden heroes have made a difference and will inspire young readers to make a difference, too

Did you ever wonder who invented the computer? Or who advised Martin Luther King Jr. on his nonviolent activism? Author Sarah Prager and illustrator Sarah Papworth bring to life the vibrant histories of fifty pioneering LGBTQ+ people our history books forgot to mention in the forthcoming Rainbow Revolutionaries: 50 LGBTQ+ People Who Made History.

Author Sarah Prager answers a few questions for us.

Who are some of the queer women in this book that inspired you most?

There are a couple dozen women in this book so it’s hard to choose! I loved researching trans rights activist Marsha P. Johnson and finding out just how kind and beloved she was. Josephine Baker has a unique story as a performer/spy/mom of twelve/activist. Roboticist Martine Rothblatt, astronaut Sally Ride, and tennis player Billie Jean King also have inspiring stories.

Can you tell us the story of one of them?

Frieda Belinfante has an incredible tale. She was living as a Dutch musician when the Nazis invaded. She gave her life over to activism for the Resistance, forging ID papers for Jews and helping to lead a bombing of the records office to destroy information on where to find Jews before the Nazis could get to them. Frieda was also one of the first female orchestra conductors before and after the war.

This book is for youth ages 8-12. What were you like at that age?

I was unaware of queerness at that age, but when a friend came out to me around the age of 13 and I realized liking girls was an option, it changed my life. Before then, I was pretty shy, not too popular, and unsure of myself. After coming out at 14, I began my life as an outspoken activist.

Your first book Queer, There, and Everywhere told the stories of LGBTQ+ people from history for a teen audience. How was writing on the same topic for middle grade readers this time?

I found it much more enjoyable to write because the voice is so simplified and clear. I was so excited to think about bringing these stories to a younger audience so that they can learn about our history at an appropriate age instead of waiting until they are older when they realize a piece of history has been hidden from them. I also loved working with the illustrator, Sarah Papworth, on detailed portraits of each of the 50 historical figures. We incorporated touches like stars around Sylvia Rivera to represent her organization STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries).

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Rainbow Revolutionaries comes out on May 26 in the U.S. and Canada (and in June for other countries) and is now available for pre-order. There will be a live launch party online on May 26 open to all featuring special guests