Queer Solutions: Lessons from Earlier Lives

Sunday, January 5, 2020: 8:30 AM
Gramercy West (New York Hilton)
Trisha Franzen, Albion College
Anna Howard Shaw (1847-1919) saw no justice in the fact that, in the event of her death, Lucy E. Anthony, her partner of thirty years, would have to pay inheritance tax for the home they financed, designed, built and lived in together. Her remedy was to sell Alnick Lodge to Lucy for $1.00 in January, 1915, just weeks before she embarked on the most strenuous suffrage campaigns of her long NAWSA (National American Woman Suffrage Association) presidency. As a self-made, self-supporting woman who headed a non-traditional family, Shaw was acutely aware of the material as well as social costs of her transgressive life. While this consciousness pushed her to envision a future that included much more than women’s equal rights, it also forced her to explore alternative routes for achieving her goals. This is but one of many examples of Shaw’s creative public and private resistance to the restrictions imposed by her era’s heteropatriarchal laws and norms, yet she was hardly alone in such efforts or original in her solutions. Unfortunately, much of this part of Shaw’s life was ignored in subsequent suffrage narratives. This paper argues that studies of historical queer lives from suffrage and other political movements may uncover linkages between the political priorities of the late 20th and early 21st century LGBTQ+ movements and the injustices and survival strategies identified by queer activists of earlier periods.
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