No Way, They Were Gay?

Hidden Lives and Secret Loves

From the Series Queer History Project

  • Interest Level: Grade 6 - Grade 12
  • Reading Level: Grade 6

“History” sounds really official. Like it’s all fact. Like it’s definitely what happened.

But that’s not necessarily true. History was crafted by the people who recorded it. And sometimes, those historians were biased against, didn’t see, or couldn’t even imagine anyone different from themselves.

That means that history has often left out the stories of LGBTQIA+ people: men who loved men, women who loved women, people who loved without regard to gender, and people who lived outside gender boundaries. Historians have even censored the lives and loves of some of the world’s most famous people, from William Shakespeare and Pharaoh Hatshepsut to Cary Grant and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Join author Lee Wind for this fascinating journey through primary sources—poetry, memoir, news clippings, and images of ancient artwork—to explore the hidden (and often surprising) Queer lives and loves of two dozen historical figures.

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Interest Level Grade 6 - Grade 12
Reading Level Grade 6
Genre Social Studies, Young Adult
Category 5 Kinds of Nonfiction, 5KN: Traditional Nonfiction, Diverse Books: LGBTQIA+, Diverse Books: #OwnVoices, Diversity, SEL: A Self-Awareness, SEL: C Social Awareness, Social Emotional Learning
Copyright 2021
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Zest Books ™
Language English
Number of Pages 296
Publication Date 2021-04-06
Text Type Narrative Nonfiction
BISACS YAN006150, YAN025000, YAN051270
Dewey 306.76/60922
Dimensions 5.5 x 8.25
Lexile 1110
Features Author/Illustrator biography, Author/Illustrator note, Awards, Bibliography/further reading, Introductory note, Primary source quotations/images, Reviewed, Source notes, Teaching Guides, and eSource

Author: Lee Wind

Lee Wind is the founding blogger and publisher of I'm Here. I'm Queer. What The Hell Do I Read?, an award-winning website about books, culture, and empowerment for Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Questioning and Queer youth, and their Allies. He is the author of No Way, They Were Gay?: Hidden Lives and Secret Loves, which won the ILA Children's and Young Adult's Book Award and was named a 2021 Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Book. Lee also works for IBPA and SCBWI. Visit him online at to see and share how #QueerHistoryIsEverywhere.

Lerner eSource™ offers free digital teaching and learning resources, including Common Core State Standards (CCSS) teaching guides. These guides, created by classroom teachers, offer short lessons and writing exercises that give students specific instruction and practice using Common Core skills and strategies. Lerner eSource also provides additional resources including online activities, downloadable/printable graphic organizers, and additional educational materials that would also support Common Core instruction. Download, share, pin, print, and save as many of these free resources as you like!

Queer History Project

Take a fascinating journey through LGBTQIA2+ history, delving into primary sources to explore and reclaim the lives, loves, and identities of historical figures around the world. View available downloads →

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  • Children's Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year, Winner, 2022
  • ILA Children's and Young Adult Book Award in Nonfiction, Winner, 2022
  • Cybils Nominee, Nominated, 2021
  • Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books, Winner, 2021


Children's Literature Comprehensive Database (CLCD)

“Wind takes readers on a life-changing journey through the often untold and hidden history of LGBTQIA+ people. Censored throughout history, Wind uses primary sources to explore the lives of twelve of the most famous historical figures. The primary source material is bolded throughout the book and includes the author’s own interpretations. Readers also have an opportunity to form their own thoughts and views. Each chapter ends with a question for the reader to reflect on. Every hidden history is revealed in an informative and respectful manner. Included in the non-fiction text are a table of contents, additional resources for reference, an index, and definitions of relevant acronyms and symbols that are an integral part of the LGBTQIA+ community. This is an informative acknowledgment of history. Wind has created a safe space for young adult readers who are in need or who want to help create a safe space for their peers.” —Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database (CLCD)


“[S]olidly written, well-documented and organized . . . a modest, well-intentioned contribution to gay history.”—Booklist

Foreword Reviews

“At a time where issues of social justice are often deemed either overinflated or ‘solved,’ Lee Wind makes a powerful case that queer historical erasure is an ongoing issue.”—Foreword Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

“Entertaining, illuminating, and an accessible antidote to dominant histories.”—Kirkus Reviews

Judy Grahn

“This work serves not only to educate everyone who reads it, but also to help LGBT youth feel seen, to know people like them exist in the world, and to have role models that are among the most revered of leaders. Do I wish I’d had this in junior high school? You bet!” —Dr. Judy Grahn, author of Another Mother Tongue: Gay Words, Gay Worlds

Linda Sue Park

“Such an important book, both enlightening and entertaining. Highly recommended for readers age 10-110!”—Linda Sue Park, Newbery Medalist

Alex Sanchez

“I think as a teen I might’ve chosen to major in History if I’d read Lee Wind’s fun, fast-paced, and thought-provoking book. I love how it lays out the evidence about some of our past’s greatest heroes, invites us to draw our own conclusions, and inspires us, regardless of our sexual orientation or gender identity to be true to who we are.”—Alex Sanchez, author of Rainbow Boys and You Brought Me the Ocean

Kathleen Krull

“Fascinating, ambitious, diverse, rigorously researched, and much-needed—this book will save lives.”–Kathleen Krull, winner of the Children’s Book Guild Nonfiction Award for body of work, and author of the Lives Of series

Lesléa Newman

“This is a fascinating book that challenges the simplistic history we have been taught to believe for far too long. Lee Wind illuminates the complexities of historical figures, and through them, readers are given permission to be their true, complex selves and live their true, complex, authentic lives. An important book for readers of all ages.”–Lesléa Newman, author of Heather Has Two Mommies, Sparkle Boy, and October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard

Mathew C. Winner

“Lee’s work reminds readers, especially LGBTQ readers, that we all come from somewhere and that even though the history books may seek to silence or throw a shadow over our truths, our truths are ours to share with the world with pride.”—Matthew C. Winner, host of The Children’s Book Podcast

Michael D. Cohen

“I can’t believe this book hasn’t existed until now!! It’s a joyful and fascinating read that reminds us that LGBTQ+ people have always existed, thrived and made important contributions to society. No matter what your age, orientation or gender identity, Lee Wind makes you feel like this book was written for you.”–Michael D. Cohen, Actor/Writer/Director/Acting Coach