Sunday, December 07, 2008

Gay weddings before 1950?

A new exhibit at the San Francisco Public Library gathers the stories of pioneering LGBT people who disguised their gender and legally married the ones they loved.

Regina Marler writes:
Mrs. Adelle Best of San Mateo, Calif., died at age 71 in 1940, 10 years after the death of her third husband. A former neighbor recalled her as “a wonderful person,” and added, “we knew she was different, somehow, from other women, but all were very fond of her.” She was different, all right. She was a man.

Known as an “excellent cook and housekeeper,” Mrs. Best’s secret came to light only on her deathbed, when a well-meaning doctor finally forced an exam on the ailing widow. Her case is one of six included in a small but remarkable exhibition, Girl Who 'Wed' Another Girl: Pre-1950 Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Marriages in the United States, at the main branch of the San Francisco Public Library through December 18. The newspaper clippings and period photographs in the exhibition -- which convey all the scandal of sex deviance, as well as surprisingly tough and defiant quotes from some of these gender outlaws. READ MORE