Welcome to the latest puzzle in my ongoing series, Eyes Open, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and other civil rights protests.
Whether you read the blog regularly or just these special Eyes Open puzzle posts, you have no doubt figured out that I’m a history buff. I love learning about all the curious twists and turns that lead to important world events. There’s so much out there that wasn’t covered in history class waiting for curious minds to discover.
But there’s a sinister underbelly there as well. Because, for every interesting tidbit that simply didn’t fit the narrative, there are whole swathes of important figures and moments that were purposely excluded, or even worse, maliciously erased from the historical record.
You’ll often hear uninformed people or the willfully ignorant say things like “there were no trans people before the 20th century” or talk about how “all these labels and things didn’t exist when I was a kid.” Trust me, there were plenty of gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, and other non-binary and non-hetero individuals throughout history. Just because you didn’t learn about them, that doesn’t mean they didn’t exist.
They were whitewashed and straight-washed from history by historians, and records of their existence were systematically destroyed and wiped out by groups like the Nazis. The LQBTQIA+ community has suffered greatly from concentrated attempts at historical erasure, and although there are important steps being taken these days to preserve and protect LGBTQIA+ history, who knows how much has already been lost, buried, burnt away forever?
As I said before, I enjoy reading history books, and it’s fairly rare for me to encounter names that are unfamiliar. That is, unless it’s a book about LGBTQIA+ history, which are often teeming with important, influential, trailblazing names I’ve never heard of. And that’s a travesty.
One of those valuable resources is The Book of Pride: LGBTQ Heroes Who Changed the World by Mason Funk. A collection of profiles and partial interviews from the wonderful Outwords archive, The Book of Pride details numerous gay, lesbian, bi, and trans individuals who fought for nonbinary gender representation, bi representation, and other LGBTQ groups that have been marginalized and attacked over the years.
These are people who fought when the fight was harder, whose struggles have helped pave the way for modern activists to carry on the fight. And without these interviews, many of these voices could’ve been lost forever.
Please click here to read the absolute treasure trove of interviews collected by the team at Outwords.
I hope this puzzle serves to engage you as a solver and encourage you to learn more about these crucial influential figures and help bring them to greater prominence and awareness. There are some links offered below for those interested in learning more.
(I debated whether to use the LGBTQIA+ rainbow flag colors in the grid. On the one hand, with seven black squares across the center diagonal, it felt appropriate. On the other hand, it does feel unpleasantly close to Rainbow Capitalism. I opted to leave the coloring in. If you’d like to see it removed, please do not hesitate to say so and I can provide a grid in the usual black-and-white motif.)
[Click this link to download a PDF of this puzzle.]
- 17-Across, here and here
- 53-Across, here and here
- 5-Down, here and here
- 10-Down, here and here
- 33-Down, here and here
- 35-Down, here and here
If you have suggestions for more topics for me to cover in future puzzles, please let me know. If you’re a person of color and you’d like to share a puzzle of your own, or to collaborate with me on a puzzle, please let me know.
If you’re a member of the LGBTQ community, and you have ideas, please let me know. If you’re a trans person, or a non-binary individual, and you feel underrepresented in puzzles, please let me know.
I would like this to become something bigger, but hopefully, this is at the very least a start.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for standing up, speaking up, and fighting the good fight.
Support LGBTQIA+ people.
Black lives matter.
AAPI lives matter.