Washington’s Gay General (2023)


Author Josh Trujillo and illustrator Levi Hastings tell the true story of one of the most important—but largely forgotten—military leaders of the American Revolution, Baron von Steuben, who brought much-needed knowledge to the inexperienced and ill-prepared Continental Army. As its first Inspector General, von Steuben created an organizational framework for the US military, which included writing the Blue Book guide that became the standard for training American soldiers for more than a century.

Von Steuben was also, by all accounts, a flamboyant homosexual in an era when the term didn’t even exist. Beginning with von Steuben’s career in the Prussian Army, Trujillo explores his recruitment by Benjamin Franklin, his work alongside General George Washington at Valley Forge, and his eventual decline into obscurity. In Washington’s Gay General, Trujillo and Hastings impart both the intricacies of queer history and the importance of telling stories that highlight queer experiences.

From: Abrams Books

Notes on This Title

This is a biography of the historical figure Baron von Steuben, interspersed with anecdotes and experiences from queer history more generally, as well as the author’s life. It discusses the ways in which the choices made by von Steuben during his lifetime do not align with contemporary values, such as the fact that he took underage lovers or the fact that he owned at least one enslaved person.

There are also brief depictions of other queer historical figures, including Public Universal Friend, a preacher who rejected the gender binary, Frederick Gotthold Enslin, an American soldier who was accused of sexually assaulting another soldier, and Charity Bryant and Sylvia Drake, two women who were in a relationship.


ALA Graphic Novels & Comics Round Table - 2023 Best Graphic Novels for Adults


“This graphic biography is engaging and nuanced, with dynamic illustrations, fascinating bits of history and a writing style that fits solidly in the “edutainment” category.” (Source: Love in Panels)

“It’s an unexpectedly moving testament to the pressing need for more queer heroes, however complicated.” (Source: Publishers Weekly)

“This gorgeously appointed graphic novel examines the biography of Baron von Steuben, a key military leader in the American Revolution, and his male lovers.” (Source: Shelf Awareness)



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