When did Americans turn against the "Romantic Friendships" enjoyed by many women couples in the mid-19th century and early 20th century?
These were intimate, and often sexual, associations between pairs of women, especially those who were independent by means of their professions or personal wealth. In the late 1890s and early 1900s, sexologists identified homosexuality and often diagnosed them as individuals with aberrant, transgressive behaviors. The public began to reject these previously "normal" associations as unhealthy, dangerous, and even criminal.
Dr. Marie Equi and heiress Harriet Speckart of Portland and Dr. Mary Sperry and attorney Gail Laughlin of San Francisco are two early 20th century couples confronted with this more hostile public attitude.
Michael Helquist, biographer of Marie Equi, and Paula Lichtenberg, independent scholar and curator of "Faces From the Past," a new exhibit at the GLBT History Museum in San Francisco, will describe how Equi-Speckart and Sperry-Laughlin were subjected to vile charges of inappropriate behavior and maligned in the press and in court trials.
The talk will be presented Wednesday, November 8, 2017, 7 - 9pm at the GLBT History Museum, 4127 18th Street, San Francisco. Admission: $5; free for members.
An added attraction for the talk is the unveiling of the prototype for the MARIE EQUI bronze plaque that will become part of the Rainbow Honor Walk in the Castro and Upper Market districts. The plaques are embedded in the neighborhoods' sidewalks to honor LGBTQ individuals, now deceased, who have made significant contributions to freedom, justice and the arts.
Copies of Marie Equi: Radical Politics and Outlaw Passions, Oregon State University Press, 2015, will be available for purchase and signing by the author.
Author Historian Activist