Review: Bad Gays by Huw Lemmey and Ben Miller

An exciting new non-fiction exploring queer history.

Caitlin Blackburn
9th June 2022
Image credit: @heuwlemmey on Twitter
Novelist Huw Lemmey and writer Ben Miller have been educating and entertaining listeners with tales of evil gays since 2019. With their podcast, now on it’s third season, boasting features in global media outlets such as the likes of Vice and Vox, there’s no question that the pair’s book, bearing the same name as their beloved podcast Bad Gays: a homosexual history, will be hotly anticipated by their thousands of listeners.

From the immediate outset of the introduction, Lemmey and Miller shine a light on the hidden underbelly of queer history, subverting the usual curriculum with their information on Alfred Bruce Douglas, or ‘Bosie’, the lover of the better known Oscar Wilde. It’s an interesting perspective change from the martyred Wilde, and the stories of Douglas’ nefarious behaviour do well to thrill and educate readers from the get go. Although the book does ask a certain preliminary knowledge of homosexual historical figures, I’d say the work toes the line of academic and entertaining just enough to be accessible for the wider public, and but is sure to be a publication of note for those with an already existing interest in the field of homosexual history.

Lemmey and Miller shine a light on the hidden underbelly of queer history

The work proves to be an informative yet entertaining amble through the most transgressive and shocking sides of queer history as the prose boasts witty quips as well as a well-researched historical backing.

Overall, it’s an important meditation on exactly what we view to be queer history. Lemmey and Miller work to create an overview of homosexual history that doesn’t centre the stereotypical historical martyred LGBT icons so often traipsed in ventures into the homosexual past, fighting white-centred history to provide a comprehensive history that works to decolonise our perceptions, creating an significant, inter-cultural romp into queer figures of yesteryear.

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