Afternoon Inqueery

AI: Queer Inspiration

Yesterday, Yessenia posted a link in her quickies post discussing five trans* role models most people have not heard of. One of the people on that list was Sylvia Rivera, a trans* activist who many consider to have been a catalyst for the riots at Stonewall.

As I said in the comments of Yessenia’s post, one of the assignments in my history of sexuality course last semester was a mock grant proposal for a research project. I proposed to use ethnohistorical methods to gather information on Sylvia Rivera’s life, which would serve as data and source material for a biography. I was inspired by John D’Emilio’s wonderful biography Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin (if you haven’t read it, you should!).

There are quite a few queer people who I find inspirational, including both Rivera and Rustin, but Harvey Milk and Michel Foucault also rank up high on my list.

Who are some queer people that you find inspiring? Why do they inspire you?

The Afternoon Inqueery (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Queereka community. Look for it to appear on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday at 3pm ET.

Featured image is of Bayard Rustin.

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Will is the admin of Queereka, part of the Skepchick network. They are a cultural/medical anthropologist who works at the intersections of sex/gender, sexuality, health, and education. Their other interests include politics, science studies, popular culture, and public perceptions and understandings of anthropology. Follow them on Twitter at @anthrowill and Facebook at


  1. June 12, 2012 at 4:13 pm —

    I just saw Brother Outsider and am feeling really inspired by Bayard Rustin at the moment as well! Maybe I’ll have to read the book.

  2. June 13, 2012 at 11:06 pm —

    Apart from obvious ‘famous’ (and still alive) people I admire like Rachel Maddow and Glenn Greenwald, I had the opportunity to meet an amazing Irish lady last year, Dil Wickremasinghe who I pretty much hope to be one day! Her life story sounded eerily similar to mine, and she was lovely enough to respond to a tentative email of mine to meet up for a coffee! She works as an LGBTQ, mental health and migrant activist in Ireland. She’s kind of an inspiration 🙂

  3. June 21, 2012 at 9:23 pm —

    I must confess I have a soft spot for William Burroughs. He was never an activist, and not what you might call a totally positive figure. I really love his books.

    What I learnt from him was to be unapologetic and unafraid. If somebody has a problem with you, it belongs to them, not you. You can say what you are, what you think, and never have to explain it unless you want to. I’ve softened some over the years, so I’m no longer quite as arrogant as that makes me sound. Some of it has stayed with me though, and I’m very glad of it.

    Oh yeah, I also learnt that it’s also a really really bad idea to even try herion.

  4. June 21, 2012 at 9:42 pm —

    Uh. Screwed up that last sentence, but you get the idea…

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