Book Review

Basically Queer edited by Claire Robson, Kelsey Blair, and Jen Marchbank

Basically Queer offers an introduction to what it can look and feel like to live life as lesbian, gay, bisexual, asexual, two spirited and trans. Written by youth and elders who’ve lived these lives first hand, the book combines no-nonsense explanations, definitions, and information with engaging stories and poetry that bring them to life. Basically Queer answers those questions that many want to ask but fear will give offence: What is it really like to be queer? What’s appropriate language? How can I be an ally? It also provides a succinct and readable account of queer history and legal rights worldwide, addresses intergenerational issues, and offers some tips and tricks for living queer. It does so in an easy and conversational style that will be accessible to most readers, including teens. The text will be of interest to those teaching courses in gender, sexuality, queer and women’s studies. It will be a useful resource for those who are questioning or examining their sexual or gender identities and those who are in relationship with them, such as doctors, teachers, parents, or friends.


This local book was recommended in Olga and Natasha’s interview, so of course I had to check it out! This series of essays is a collaboration between Quirk-e (Queer Imaging & Riting Kollective for Elders) and YfAC (Youth for A Change), two activist groups in the Vancouver area. Although the group of youth have some excellent poems, I have to say the essays that won me over were almost entirely from the elders.

Anyone who wants to learn more about queer history from multiple individual’s perspectives would enjoy this book, but it’s especially meaningful for those of us who live in Vancouver. There’s something very special about seeing how different neighborhoods have evolved in their attitudes toward LGBTQIA2S+ communities (and sometimes, how they have not). And the overarching conceit – of queer elders offering wisdom and queer youth offering new insights – is an intergenerational joy. A lovely anthology.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Check out our Queer Lil Library for more book recommendations and reviews!

1 comment on “Basically Queer edited by Claire Robson, Kelsey Blair, and Jen Marchbank

  1. Pingback: I Read 66 Queer Books in 2021! – Roar Cat Reads

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