Book Launch | Bad Gays: A Homosexual History, Huw Lemmey and Ben Miller

Join us for the launch of Bad Gays: A Homosexual History (Verso: 2022) with the book’s authors Huw Lemmey and Ben Miller, mediated by Marc Thompson.

Part revisionist history, part historical biography and based on the hugely popular podcast series, Bad Gays subverts the notion of gay icons and queer heroes and asks what we can learn about LGBTQ history, sexuality and identity through its villains and baddies. From the Emperor Hadrian to notorious gangster Ronnie Kray, the authors excavate the buried history of queer lives. This includes fascist thugs, famous artists, austere puritans and debauched bon viveurs, imperialists, G-men and architects.

Together these amazing life stories expand and challenge the mainstream assumptions of sexual identity. They show that homosexuality itself was an idea that emerged in the nineteenth century and that its interpretation has been central to major historical moments of conflict from the ruptures of Weimar Republic to red-baiting in Cold War America. Bad Gays puts centre stage the queer villains and evil twinks in history.

The authors will read selected excerpts from Bad Gays, followed by an in–conversation.

Doors will open at 6.30pm, with the talk starting at 7pm.
Bad Gays will be available to purchase at the event.

Capacity is limited. Free, booking essential.

About the authors

Huw Lemmey is a novelist, artist and critic. He is the author of three novels and has written for the Guardian, Frieze, Flash Art, Tribune, the Architectural Review, Art Monthly, New Humanist and the White Review, amongst others. As an artist and filmmaker, his work has been shown at the ICA, Lux Biennial of Moving Image, Mumok Vienna, Warsaw Museum of Contemporary Art and the Design Museum, London.

Ben Miller is a writer and researcher living in Berlin. He has written for the New York Times, Literary Hub and the Los Angeles Review of Books, and is the author of The New Queer Photography. He is a member of the board of the Schwules Museum, a queer museum and archive.

About Marc Thompson
Marc is the co-director of The Love Tank CIC, a community interest community that promotes health and wellbeing of under-served communities through education, capacity building and research.
Marc is the co-founder of, a community-based intervention that aims to educate and agitate for PrEP access globally and was the co-founder of Blackout UK, a movement dedicated to working with and building safe spaces for black gay men. 
Marc has recently featured in the BBC2 series Saved by a Stranger and The Guardians Outspoken series
He currently co-curates the digital archive ‘Black and Gay, Back in the Day’ documenting Black LGBT life in Britain since the 1970s and hosts the podcast series We Were Always Here. Telling the story of the UK HIV epidemic through unheard voices.  
About Bad Gays

“Why must liberatory history be populated by heroes? And what if it isn’t? Huw Lemmey and Ben Miller confront the shadowy side of queer history, a seamy underworld populated by evil twinks and psychopathic villains. Delectable gossip aside, this revelatory book is really an account of toxic power relations, always with an eye to a better, stranger, wilder future.”
– Olivia Laing, author of Everybody

“A smart, funny (and, just occasionally, catty) tour through the darker side of LGBTQ+ history. Far from being an excoriation, this book is a sign of confidence in a community that no longer has to present its antecedents as saints and martyrs but as real people: some of these gays were well-meaning but flawed; some of them were complicated; and some of them were just bloody awful.”
– Juliet Jacques, author of Variations

“A wry, rigorous account of centuries of gay villainy. Lemmey and Miller’s historiography sparkles with salacious details and delights in showing us that there is nothing new under the sun.”
– Shon Faye, author of The Transgender Issue

Bad Gays
A Homosexual History
by Huw Lemmey, Ben Miller
Verso: 2022

Image credit

Joanne Tatham & Tom O’Sullivan, The Institute For The Magical Effect Of Actually Giving A Shit (a note to our future self), 2021. A Studio Voltaire commission. Image courtesy of the artists and The Modern Institute, Toby Webster Ltd, Glasgow. Photo: Francis War

You might be interested in

Notes on Neo-Camp: Curated by Chris Sharp

12 October 2013—14 December 2013
View more

Desperate Living C–19

1 May 2020—31 October 2020
View more