From Margaret Cho to Boy George, The Queer Advantage asks prominent LGBTQ high achievers how their queerness contributed to their success.
With LGBTQ+ people under renewed attacks across the country, it’s important to acknowledge and learn from the queer trailblazers who have been influential and successful in spite of the odds.
Andrew Gelwicks‘ new book The Queer Advantage: Conversations with LGBTQ+ Leaders on the Power of Identity shines a much-needed spotlight on these pioneers through interview chapters that are easy to read, engaging, and enlightening.
Available in paperback now The Queer Advantage talks to visionaries from all walks of life, from music, to sport, to comedy — from Boy George to Margaret Cho, George Takei to Billie Jean King. What do these diverse subjects have in common? They each credit their queer identity with giving them an edge in their paths to success.
It’s an angle that is deeply seeded in Gelwicks’ own life. As a young person, he feared that his queer identity, his so-called difference, was a weakness—something that would work against him as he moved through the world. Over time he realized that being gay not only motivated him, it advantaged him. And in talking to other LGBTQ+ leaders, Gelwicks understood how some of the world’s most successful people had achieved great heights with the help of their queer identity, positively impacting their careers and lives—and those of others. To add to the unique and personal flavor of the interviews, the book features illustrations of each subject by queer artist Rooney.
It’s validating to read the struggles that made these folks strong and successful such as, bisexual comic Margaret Cho getting teased by kids when she was growing up was a factor that contributed to her developing humor as a coping mechanism to deal with her sense of isolation. When Gelwicks asks Cho if her work ethic is connected to her queerness she says, “If you look at all of the queer artists out there, there’s such exceptional talent that is born out of this drive to be counted as equal.”
Pioneering pop artist Boy George is surely one of the first openly and expressively queer music icons that pushed gender boundaries. George tells Gelwicks that being queer gave him an advantage in that it made him “stand out.”
Gelwicks also had married couple Dustin Lance Black and Tom Daley contribute to the book, and Black’s discussion of escaping Mormonism and becoming one of Hollywood’s most sought after writer-producers — as well as being a civil rights activist — is truly inspiring.
Elsewhere, Gelwicks’ interviews touch on themes of channelling anger to producer change, using outsider status to seize on new ideas and strategies, harnessing sensitivity into powers of observation, and more. With such an esteemed collection of people gathered around one topic, you the reader will feel in better company!
The book has received positive praise and blurbs from folks not included between the covers but nevertheless equally inspiring as mainstream high achievers.
“An inspirational book of positive queer histories and quotes. Loved it, and it’s true there is definitely an advantage,” says Gus Van Sant, award-winning filmmaker of Milk and Good Will Hunting.
“From one once-confused Midwestern Jewish kid to another, Andrew Gelwicks has collected powerful personal stories and created an insightful guide to breaking free of confusion and frustration to be our best selves. This book is one that I’ll keep coming back to,” says Nate Berkus, interior designer and author of The Things That Matter.