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I thought it might be dull and overly scholarly, but this interesting and well-researched biography brings to life Charity Clsves, a strong-willed and independent teacher whose intimate friendships with women often attracted gossip, and Sylvia Drake, a quiet intellectual who was several years younger. It is a triumph of painstaking research, and Ldaies moving love story. The Prehistory of Same-Sex Marriage in America, Rachel Hope in which she looks at the emergence of the very first gay subcultures, as Cleves states, “​carnivalesque elements with genuine expressions of desire” ().

The women were going into housekeeping together, and were beginning a lifelong emotional and sexual partnership as well as an economic one. Sylvia dismissed the men who courted her without consideration. Cleves presents us with a woman who loved other women and found herself out of place and even scorned in the communities in which she lived. Respectable nineteenth-century women rarely wrote directly about sex of any sort, but this silence is especially characteristic of the history of same-sex intimacy.

The closet depends on people strategically choosing to remain ignorant of inconvenient facts… The open closet is Ladies looking real sex Cleves especially critical strategy in small towns, where every person serves a role, and which would cease to function if all moral transgressors were ostracized.

Charity and sylvia - hardback - rachel hope cleves - oxford university press

Clevves As such, it reveals just how Ladies looking real sex Cleves more tolerant early America was of same-sex marriage than most people realize. Together, Charity and Sylvia were able to enjoy the benefits of the single life independence while still experiencing the love, partnership, and sexual pleasures of marriage. We see each story as one of a kind, defying categorization.

The Cldves that such relationships fostered was in fact appreciated at the time. August, Windsor decision, striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, has truly been astonishing. This book really fleshed her out and made her more real for me. Furthermore, there are those that view marriage as a process of assimilation and normalization that disproportionately benefits those who can most easily assimilate to normative expectations, therefore reinforcing the white, male, gender-conforming, middle-class model of sexuality.

It was, in other words, a marriage. In some ways, she did not live all that differently from her sisters after all.

Rachel hope cleves | women in u.s. history

As elsewhere in the book, Cleves reaches Ladiex conclusion through a close reading of the few documents that remain. Roughly the first half of the book covers the period before Charity and Sylvia met, and the second half focuses on their union and its meaning for the women and those around them. But in Charity, Sylvia finally found a kindred soul.

She worried that she would be seen as a false teacher, instructing her Sunday School students in the tenets of faith while not living up to a righteous standard herself. Over the next forty-four years they remained mutually devoted to each other through the tribulations of ill health, overwork, and spiritual doubt. McCurdy, Journal of American History "Cleves's work advances our understanding by illustrating how a social history, which reconstructs and analyzes social relationships over the course of a lifetime, can move beyond tropes and character types to reveal self-definitions and lived experience The ignorance that defines the closet is as likely to be a carefully constructed edifice as it is to be a total absence of knowledge.

For historians of religion, it also seems to open the door to a deeper discussion of the ways in which Christians of this period incorporated their sexual and their spiritual selves. Ladies looking real sex Cleves

The book overturns conventional notions that same-sex marriage is new. Queer history has often focused on the modern city as the most potent site of gay liberation, since its anonymity and living arrangements for single people permitted same-sex-desiring men and women to form innovative communities. Reflecting on the symbolism of the silhouette portrait, Cleves writes: Their sameness is misleading, a misapprehension that obscures their differences from each other, and their difference as a pair from others at the time… Charity opened the door to a different life.

In a male-dominated world, two women could not claim the same freedom from public interference that a man could for his home. That acceptance did not come out of a lack of understanding the nature of their relationship. It seems reasonable to hope that same-sex marriage has the same potential to reshape acceptable sex roles today. I would tell you of their dwelling, encircled with roses, which now in the days of their broken health, bloom wild without their tendance, and I Ladies looking real sex Cleves speak of the friendly attentions which their neighbors, people of kind hearts and simple manners, seem to take pleasure in bestowing upon them, but I have already said more than I fear they will forgive me for, if this should ever meet their eyes, and I must leave the subject.

Taken together they tell a history we are only beginning to know. The letters do not explicitly state the content of the gossip about Charity, which Cleves explains as part of a general wariness to put unsubstantiated rumors in writing. Their stories have been hard to see because they confound our expectations.

Sylvia attributed this to illness, but Cleves points out that frequently the illness that kept Charity at home on Ladiss Sunday would not prevent her from being at her work on a Monday. · This is the only history of a marriage between two American women before the Civil War.

Charity and sylvia

In both these sources, references to sexuality take the form of allusions, not direct statements. When the two women met, Sylvia was living at home.

What do we make of this? Cleves's careful reading of the archival remnants of this couple's life suggests a powerful new narrative in the history of Christianity and homosexuality: Charity and Sylvia, a couple who lived openly in a pious same-sex marriage in antebellum America, were recognized by their community as exemplars of Christian faith. This is an important book that deserves to become a classic in the field.

In chapters on the marriage of Charity and Sylvia, Cleves continues to grapple with the unanswered questions of what happened behind closed doors and what that meant to the women themselves, but she also focuses on the ways in which their relationship was read as a marriage by those who observed them. Throughout their lives together Charity always served as head of the household.

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What an irony that these two marriage-averse women ended up forming such a remarkable union… Once Sylvia and Charity found each other, they were never willing to be parted. She tells their story with a grace and style that will captivate readers even as her approach to categorising their relationship raises many questions that will most likely prompt Ladies looking real sex Cleves and debate for years to come. This demand for marriage equality was seen in the subsequent decades right through to with the legalization of same sex marriage in America.

They were valued members of their community for their work as skilled tailors, for their training of apprentices, for their assistance in the education of nieces and nephews, and for their leadership in the church. In Charity and Sylvia, Cleves tells the story of these two women as an early history of same-sex marriage.

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She had a happier life in rural Weybridge and never had to face the sort of gossip that plagued Charity. Therefore, this period not only saw increasing marriages between men, Clevex also saw New York City become solidified as the first and primary gay and lesbian subculture in America.

Monthly donation. Vincent Millay, then revisit the passionate correspondence of Vita Sackville-West and Violet Trefusis and these moving vintage photographs of queer couples celebrating their love in the early twentieth century. Who is not dumbstruck by the spectacle of legal same-sex marriages performed in a state such as Utah, which criminalized same-sex sexual behavior until ? She handled the money and took the lookinh role in all of their business.

My Clevew of Cleves was an interesting look into a woman that survived marriage to Henry VIII.