Private Lives, Public Personas: Queer Alliances in the Suffrage Movement

Sunday, January 5, 2020: 9:30 AM
Gramercy West (New York Hilton)
Wendy Rouse, San José State University
In an effort to prevent the passage of a woman’s suffrage amendment, anti-suffragists launched powerful propaganda campaigns that constructed suffragists as abnormal, man-hating, masculine deviants. Leaders of suffrage organizations, concerned with countering these attacks, publicly promoted an image of femininity and heteronormative domesticity, often at the same time that they privately maintained their own queer relationships. This sanitizing of the private lives and public personas of individual suffragists in some ways contributed to the historical erasure of the lives and loves of prominent queer suffragists. Yet, it was through these important romantic liasons and intimate partnerships that women forged powerful personal alliances, often across national and transnational boundaries. These relationshps proved essential in propelling the suffrage movement forward. This paper considers the stories of several lesser-known queer suffragists who dedicated their lives to furthering the suffrage cause even as they deflected criticism about their personal relationships and gender non-conformity.
<< Previous Presentation | Next Presentation