Trans Vikings and lesbian pirates: What is ‘queering the past’?

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11/24/2023

A museum in Britain identified Roman emperor Elagabalus this week as a transgender woman, saying it would start using she/her pronouns in written materials about the third-century emperor following a closer reading of classical texts. North Hertfordshire Museum said historical texts provided ample evidence of the emperor’s trans identity, for example recounting how Elagabalus asked to be called “lady”, “mistress” and “queen”. The announcement stirred debate about initiatives that seek to look back on history from an LGBTQ+ perspective, a process that is sometimes referred to as “queering the past”. Here’s what you need to know. What is ‘queering the past’?

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