Product Review of Quist – Today in LGBTQ History
Quist (a contraction of “queer history”) is a reference app for exploring historic events that involved members of the LGBTQ community. Quist’s developers created the app to build awareness, engagement, and support for the LGBTQ community and the history of the community’s struggles. On launch, users see events that occurred on this date; then, users can tap that story to view a longer entry and to browse other entries from that date. Each entry includes its date, its location (tagged by country), and relevant links. Some links head to profiles on Wikipedia, while others link to videos, outside websites, or commercial sites selling items related to the story (for example, a story about a genderqueer author winning an award includes a link to buy the book from Amazon).
In addition to navigating to today’s events, users can tap to display a navigation bar and explore events by date or browse them by country. There’s additional information about the app available, and users can link to the developer’s website or recommend a new entry for the app via the Contact option. There’s also an option to remove ads; the app is free to download, and users can pay $4.99 to disable the ads across the bottom of the screen. Note that some ads have mild swear words (one frequently displayed boasts, “Dammit, I’m a unicorn!”).
As the included activities recommend, use Quist as a jumping-off point for research and exploration. Let kids explore particular dates in history — today’s date, their birthday, or other notable dates — and see what happened. Use the map to explore where events took place.
Quist is a good first step for learning about LGBTQ history. The volume of stories here might be the app’s most powerful message; search any notable date or browse any country’s entries and you’ll learn about members of the LGBTQ community who were involved in major world events throughout history. Stories also highight civil rights tragedies and triumphs, including landmark court cases and famous firsts. Interestingly, the developer’s website might be an even better resource: There, kids and educators can learn more about the developers and their work to tell the LGBTQ community’s story and honor its champions and allies. You’ll also find links to teaching resources, activity ideas, and other high-quality resources that can help educators navigate how to tell stories that aren’t widely known or commonly shared.
While the volume of stories is great, navigating the app can be unpredictable. It’s not always clear where to click, and it’s inconsistent which stories remain as you view one story and then move back to a page of search results. More clear, consistent navigation features and a simpler interface would make exploring these stories more enjoyable. Also, keep in mind that the links out to other websites have inconsistent quality. You’ll know what you’re getting into with Wikipedia, but some external sites include profanity or images that may not be appropriate for your class. Make sure to preview anything you plan to use in class, and maybe set good ground rules (like which links are okay to click) if you set your learners loose to browse.
Overall User Consensus About the App
Images are good, and stories are brief and interesting, but the sometimes unpredictable interface can get in the way of intentional browsing.
Curriculum and Instruction
Short entries give rich information and offer tons of links to learn more. Today’s events, the map, and the search feature give users lots of ways to browse and explore.
The developer website is terrific: Tips for using the app abound, plus there’s a strong feeling of connection to the history and to a broader supportive community.