Monthly Archives: July 2015

Outlaw marriages: the hidden histories of fifteen extraordinary same-sex couples. — Rodger Streitmatter


Here is the latest addition to our library collection, a collection of biographies of fifteen men and women in American society prominent in art, music, journalism, literature, film and social reform who lived and loved in long term same-sex relationships long before same-sex marriage was recognized in law in the United States. It was published in 2012 by Beacon Press. The author, Rodger Streitmatter, serves on the faculty of the School of Communication at American University. He resides in Washington, D.C. with his husband, Tom Grooms. Mika found this recently on one of his book hunting expeditions.

The book offers the reader a view into the lives of the fifteen same-sex couples, gay and lesbian people who embraced the conventions of marriage and marital privacy at a time when it was neither accepted nor tolerated by the wider society. It comes as no surprise that married life for the same-sex couples documented in this book were not always happy and successful. Just as married life between heterosexual couples can be the best of times and the worst of times, so it is for same-sex couples. As Streitmatter observes in the prologue:

That the couples were willing to bend the marital rules doesn’t mean they all succeeded in creating relationships that were made in heaven–far from it. A regrettable scenario that plays out in several chapters begins with the lesser-known partner being absolutely essential to the better-known partner’s rise to success, but then … the high-achieving partner getting what might be called the “twenty-year itch.”

The publication of this book was timely in that it shows that gay and lesbian people were embracing the conventions of marriage and marital privacy long before same-sex marriage became the heated and divisive issue it is in American society in the present. In addition, it shows that same-sex marriages are subject to the very same joys and sorrows that confront heterosexual married couples. On that basis, it is an interesting read for those who enjoy biographies and are interested in the history of the movement for same-sex marriage rights in American society.

Posted by Geoffrey