a bizarre coincidence

April 15th, 2008 | Uncategorized

Aunt Nonie and

This is rather extraordinary given the recent discussion in the archival kisses post about old photographs of women in possibly lesbian scenarios. I was just talking to my mom on the phone, and she asked me about some family photos she’d sent a couple months ago. I vaguely recalled having received these, but just stuck them in the out-of-control pile of papers on my desk.

I dug her envelope out, and here’s one of the pictures she’d sent. That’s my Great Aunt Nonie on the swing, with her friend “Dave.”

What th’?! The photo was printed up as a postcard, and on the back, Dave (my mom remembers Dave, but not why she was called that) has written, “Dear Tote, I don’t believe I sent you one of these cards. I have been having lots of fun. We have captured two boys who have canoes and a motor boat. Hurrah for a good time! But I shall be good Tote, honest I will. I won’t be through here till middle of June I am afraid. Love, Dave.”

On the front, it continues with this cryptic line. “We wish we had the man in the ‘caboose.'” They’re standing by some train tracks…but who knows. Capturing boys? Men in the caboose? Maybe Dave was a bisexual dominatrix.

63 Responses to “a bizarre coincidence”

  1. KarenE says:

    Allison, that is a great picture! I love old photos and I have a big collection of “possible Lesbians”. Of course I reluctantly acknowledge that not all of them are “sisters of Sappho”, but we can assume at least 10% are, right? I’m eventually going to make them into an album telling a story.

  2. Brian says:

    I guess this confirm some “gene” are genetic.

  3. liza Cowan says:

    I doubt it Brian. Sexual preference is no more genetic, or neccesarily stable, than vegetarianism.

    The photo is delightful, and the coincidence wonderful. But it doesn’t mean they were lovers. Maybe they were, maybe not. You can’t judge image or text using today’s standards. Different times have different meanings.

  4. Juliet says:

    This is fabulous. I loved the previous pictures too. This thread inspired me to look again at the wonderful website of the Mary Evans Picture Library in London which is a treasure trove of old photos and drawings – all of which you can order prints of for your wall (I have one of Emmeline Pankhurst being arrested in 1908. She’s there in her pearls and furs surrounded by policemen and young men in flat caps).

    This time I found this:


    I think I need to have a good look through the old family photos! I did have a couple of elderly spinster Great Aunts who lived together until they died and were always thoroughly disruptive at family events…I always thought there might be a story there.


  5. Yeah, well this Aunt Nonie never married, and lived her whole life with her sister Aunt Mamie.

  6. queenmaxine says:

    I have possession of about 1000 negatives of pics my dad took in the 50s and am in the process of catalogging (some linked on http://www.nolanoni.blogspot.com)them and then making alternative art from them. I presume any pics that are women only are lesbo purely for the fun of it.

    Awesome find AB!

  7. Juliet says:

    I had Aunt Addy and Aunt Cissy – what’s with the names??!

  8. --MC says:

    I keep meaning to write and say that people of a certain age probably have photo albums of family members in cross-dressed situations. It used to be a hysterical jape for some people, it would seem. Knew a woman once who had a picture of her father in a becoming frock and hat framed on her wall, taken at some family gathering years before.

  9. The Other Andi says:

    Agree with MC (think Milton Berle) and others who’ve written about how you can’t overlay a contemporary framework on all of these images (well, except maybe the hot one that AB posted 😉 ). BTW, the picture of my grandmother in men’s clothing was also made into a postcard, although the copy I have was never used. I wonder if any others were ever sent and to whom? I wish I’d discovered this (and so many other photos I’ve found) when she was still alive, so that I could’ve asked her about them. There’s no one left who can answer these questions. People, talk to your relatives when you have the chance.

  10. Mabel says:

    Is Dave wearing a skirt?

    Does your mum read your blog?

  11. Ginjoint says:

    Maybe Dave was short for Davinia?

  12. Dale says:

    This is really cool! Kinda reminds me of my friend, Jill, who’s known throughout Atlanta as “Jack Daddi”.
    Hmmm…for a moment there I thought the woman on the swing (Nonie, right?) was wearing a suit. Upon closer inspection it is a skirt, but the jacket does make one wonder…
    Nice find! Maybe I should post the picture of my grandmother holding her “friend’s” hand. 😉

  13. Jana C.H. says:

    Aunt Addy would be Adeline or Adelaide, and Aunt Cissy would be Cecilia.

    It makes more sense to me than Katelynn, which is a mis-spelling of a mis-pronunciation of the Irish spelling of Kathleen.

    Jana C.H. (derives from Diana)
    Saith Floss Forbes: If you don’t know the tune, sing tenor.

  14. sunicarus says:

    Sweeeeet! This is awesome, Alison.

    Anyone familiar with Sweet Honey in the Rock singing “Little Red Caboose”?
    Lyrics of the old folk song:

    Little Red Caboose Behind the Train
    (Paul Warmack and his Gully Jumpers)

    I am growing old and weary
    And my sight is getting dim
    I have laid my links and pins away to rust
    And the only friend that’s left to me
    In this wide world to stand
    Is the Little Red Caboose Behind The Train.

    CHO: Oh, I’m growing old and feeble now
    And my sight is getting dim
    And I cannot see those signals anymore
    I can hear those whistles blowing
    And I know I’ll soon be going
    To a better home I know that, far away.

    There are young ones coming on
    It is time for me to go
    They’ll be pestered with the rain, the sleet and snow
    And they’ll find a heap of trouble
    When those hills they have to double
    With the Little Red Caboose Behind The Train.

    The Little Red Caboose Behind The Train/Paul Warmack and his Gully Jumpers,
    recorded Nashville, TN 10/1/28 From The Railroad In Folksong, RCA Victor Vintage
    Series 532, 1966.

    From the notes (not much on this song) The Grand Ole Opry, in its first decade,
    featured a handful of Tennessee String Bands like Paul Warmack’s Gully Jumpers.
    The Little Red Caboose Behind The Train is a folk parody of Will Hay’s minstrel
    classic “The Little Log Cabin In The Lane.” Railroaders delighted in caboose
    ditties which evoked the warmth of a trainman’s home and the spirit of his final
    parting. ARCHIE GREEN

  15. Kate says:

    My father always talked about his aunt; she never married, lived with the woman who was her long-time companion, and was quite the political activist in the early 20th century (she was a suffragette, and thought that the United States should compensate African-Americans for slavery). I never knew her, but I did see her tea service – I remember little violet flowers in the pattern. Dad always talked about her admiringly, btw.

  16. lb says:

    And by friend “Dave”, do you mean “friend” “Dave”?

  17. nancyboi says:

    Cute photo. And maybe they did identify as lesbians, the terms was certainly in use. Or maybe Dave understood himself/herself as male. There were plenty of people passing who’s profound expression of and identification with the “opposite” sex was similar to, though not analogous with, what we now understand as transgender.

  18. nancyboi says:

    wow. didn’t edit that too well but you get the idea.

  19. Ian says:

    I had an aunt who never married, although she was very pretty when she was younger. She lived her whole, very long life with her family and most with her sister. I always wondered why she never married, as she would have been a wonderful mother (at some point she looked after every nephew and niece she had in the family including me) and the only reason I was told was that she was “afraid of men”.

    I always wondered about her and her sister, but sadly never had a conversation about it.

    I come from a family of sailors (both merchant and armed forces) and although all very vehemently homophobic, all the men chose to spend most of their lives in all-male environments where the situational homosexuality must have been fairly prevalent.

    I love how looking at the subtext of the past subverts our preconceptions.

  20. Ian says:

    Oooh, I had a great-grandma who was a suffragette too, which I found quite strange in a generally conservative family. That said, most of the women in my family are right-wing feminists. My own mother shocked (seriously) her bosses by wearing trousers to work in the 60s.

  21. Ginjoint says:

    What exactly is a right-wing feminist? Someone who is feminist but otherwise conservative?

  22. The Cat Pimp says:

    The modern marriage rate is very high, compared to the past. People really had economics and family considerations that came before romance when it came to marriage. Some simply could not afford to do it. So, while the idea of lots of unmarried relatives in the past could lead to speculation that ones ancestral aunts and uncles were gay, they could just have had no incentive to marry. The Irish have a tradition of a low marriage rate due to primogeniture. Only the oldest son would get the land and only the oldest daughter would marry. The rest of the kids stayed with the family to take care of the farm and so on.

    That said, it’d be interesting to see if having gay and lesbian people in a family is genetic or not. I have a number of gay men in my family and it seems like a high percentage, given the popular wisdom that 10% of the population is gay.

  23. shadocat says:

    Okay, my turn to add to the stories.

    My grandmother had two sisters (so I thought anyway)that I always called Aunt Agnes and Aunt Rose. They lived together, held hands, even slept in the same double bed. My sisters and I often slept over at their house in the summer.

    A few years ago, I was going through some old family photos with my mom. One of the was a picture of my grandmother’s very large family. I could spot Grandma, and Aunt Agnes. But I couldn’t find Aunt Rose, and asked for my mom’s help.

    Mom:”Rose! Why would she be there?”

    Me:”Well, she’s their sister, isn’t she?”

    Mom:”Where would you get that idea?”

    As it turned out, Aunt Rose was married to Aunt Agnes’s brother very briefly in WWI (he died from the Spanish Influenza). They moved in together, and lived with each other until they both died in 1989. I had to ask…

    Me: “So Mom, were they lesbians?”

    Mom: “I have no idea! We didn’t ask about things like that. We just called them “companions.””

    So what do you all think?

  24. Cs says:

    I’m loving all of the family stories being shared here. Thanks everybody.

  25. advorunnermom says:

    my partner’s aunt lived with a woman called Steve for 50 years. I think it was a classic (Wellesley flavored) Boston marriage. Everyone who knew one included the other, but I seriously doubt any hanky panky went on.

  26. Maggie Jochild says:

    I agree with the admonition to not apply our modern definitions to folks in the past (though my generation was very bad about it in the 70s, labeling all kinds of herstorical figures “lesbian”). Each generation collects their identities differently and becomes whatever their conditioning agrees is reality — much like we all agree to call a certain color “red” although we may each be seeing a different hue.

    My other grandmother, Villa, made also photos in the 19-teens and 1920s of her dressed as a man, once with a young man dressed as a woman. It was a “lark”, drag done for fun, not political meaning. You can tell from their expressions that it’s not serious, even if you had not known her as someone who was definitely not transgressive. Takes more than a single photo to create a choice. And even then, many women dressed and passed as men for economic and survival reasons, not as a sexual or gender orientation. Unless they themselves said they were lesbian, trans, or whatever, we cannot know.

    Which is good, I think. We should be thinking outside the boxes, including our current rigid, self-serving labels and narratives.

    And yes, I think my grandmother Hettie likely had a romantic, possibly sexual relationship with a woman — whatever that makes her, since she also married a man. My mother’s first and great love was a woman, and she consciously turned to men after her heart was broken because she believed she’d never be close enough to them to get hurt that way again. This means that I have (somewhat lightheartedly) claimed being a third-generation lesbian. But it’s not accurate, because they were not lesbians, self-defined or by modern definitions. And it’s just as likely that my choices are the result of conditioning as genetics — more likely, in fact, if you know my mother and the attachment I had to her.

    With regard to the language used on the postcard above, it’s possible there’s personal code going on, but I think it’s just as likely we’re reading slang specific to the era and/or region, i.e., caboose, capture. Worth digging into.

    In his slide show about lesbians and gays in World War II, Allan Bérubé showed a training pamphlet used by army officials to uncover lesbians in military ranks. One of the so-called “giveaways” is that deviant women would call one another “Dave”, greeting each other in public with “Hey, Dave!”. This always sent Allan’s audiences into hysterics, and for years afterward, my best friend and I frequently say hello by crying out “Hey Dave!”. This makes me wonder if the name Dave was also comedic slang or coded in some way.

    Fascinating stuff.

  27. Maggie Jochild says:

    Oh, HELL. Here, let me turn off the itals.

  28. Lizzie from London says:

    Yes, it is fascinating. The “maiden aunt” was of course a recognized phenomenon. Perhaps that was post First World War when so many men were killed. When I was young a boyfriend’s mother told me that periods were referred to in her family as “maiden aunts”.

    Of course in the days before efficient contraception not marrying was a way of avoiding childbirth and its attendant risks. Also, in Britain until some point early in the 20th century women had no property rights if they married.

  29. egret says:

    Going back to those many unmarried relations – I wondered about this when I heard about the older brother effect. The more biological older brothers a baby boy has, the more like likely he is to grow up to be gay, even if he grows up apart from them.

    Considering people used to have a lot more children, and a lot more pregnancies than actually came to term, does that mean that there were probably more gay men born in past centuries than currently, even if they didn’t self-identify that way? Doesn’t really apply to women, but still interesting.


  30. Andi says:

    One night some years ago my (really homophobic) father had a few drinks, turned to me and casually said, “You know, my favorite Aunt was gay.” He said that she lived with them when he was growing up, that she had no interest in men or marriage, and shared a bedroom with her “nurse.” I asked him what was wrong with her, that she needed a nurse, and he said, “Nothing, she was fine. That’s just what she called her.”

    Then my mother said, “Well, your grandmother was gay.” Hel-lo? My mom gave me an album from the 1920’s of her mother, dressed in jodhpurs and a jacket, leaning on an airplane. Apparently, she flew all over the world with her girlfriends, smoked cigars, and was quite an adventurer. My parents are the ones who defined them as gay, not me.

    It’s fascinating to look at how cultural definitions evolve and how language morphs to keep up. “Nurse, friend, companion, maiden aunt, spinster, old maid,” etc. It seems like women historically were subject to/had access to a wide range of labels. I wonder what unmarried male “friends” were called?

  31. Andi says:

    Here’s a little bit of trivia about the caboose, courtesy of Wikipedia…

    Of all the implements of railroading, none has had more nicknames than the caboose. Many are of American or Canadian origin and seek to describe the vehicle or its occupants in derisive ways.

    Often heard amongst crews was “crummy” (as in a crummy place to live, not elegant, often too hot or too cold, and perhaps not especially clean), “clown wagon,” “hack,” “waycar,” “doghouse,” “go-cart,” “glory wagon,” “monkey wagon” (a term that indirectly insulted the principal functionary who rode therein, no doubt coined by an engineer), “brainbox” (the conductor was supposedly the brains of the train, as opposed to the “hogger” or engineer, who was presumed to be pigheaded), “palace,” “buggy” (Boston & Maine/Maine Central Railroad), “van” (Eastern and Central Canada, usage possibly derived from the UK term for the caboose), and “cabin.” There were others as well, some too profane to appear in print.

    (Too profane to print! Sounds racy.)

  32. sunicarus says:

    Unmarried male “friends” were called “Bachelors”. :o)

  33. jayinchicago says:

    I have a card game named Old Bachelor, a play on Old Maid.

  34. sparks says:

    For a quite excellent discussion of “passionate friendship,” may I suggest Lillian Faderman’s (where did you find the italics, Maggie?) which came out in the mid-80s. She does well to give context, politics, and history for understanding what relationships meant and why they looked how they did. Really respectful of the times.

    Oh, and anyone else know identical twins who are both queer? (raises hand)

    But I do agree with Liza about the mercurial nature of sexual orientation (and may I borrow the vegetarianism trope?)

  35. Anonymous says:

    sparks–Did you mean Surpassing the Love of Men? Yes,a very good book. Others on this board have praised Faderman’s Boots of Silver,Slippers of Gold.

    I had a great aunt who remained single,mostly because of the family expectation that somebody had to move in with the elderly parents to look after them. She did look after her mother for a few years. But before that she’d had a very adventurous life as a traveling music saleswoman in the upper midwest and the west,settling eventually in (gasp!) San Francisco,where she lost her job due to the growth of radio and the decrease in sheet music sales.

    Unemployed for 2 years during the Depression,eventually she got a job cataloging folk music for the WPA. There’s evidence she had a number of boyfriends,and from reading her letters from the late 30s,was living with one man for a few years. Which is pretty brave for the times. However,SF’s leftist ideas didn’t rub off on her; despite getting employment in her field thanks to the New Deal,she disliked Roosevelt,and became a Christian Scientist. (No,this isn’t the Jewish side of the family!)

  36. Alex K says:

    @ sunicarus: Oh, Lord. My mother used to sing that — well, she chanted it. She couldn’t carry a tune in a bedpan, bless her heart.

    And I haven’t thought of her at the ironing board, chanting “Little red caboose-caboose-ca / little red caboose-caboose-ca / little red caboose behind the traaaa-yuuuunnn”, for DECADES.

    I have to get that album, sunicarus. Thank you.

  37. Juliet says:

    I’m late in replying (time zones!) but

    to Jana C.H. – yes, she was called Adelaide and had a fabulous jewish surname to go with it. Her twin brothers (Bernard (my grandfather) and Ernest – Bernie and Ernie) anglicised their names in the war whilst the three sisters stayed the same. But we always knew her as (crazy) Aunty Addy.

    There was a story on This American Life recently about a pair of 70-something yr old sisters who lived together all their lives. They wore the same clothes as each other every day.

    After each of their older sisters married the sister would pass through a particular door in the house in their gowns out on the way to church. Just before it got to these two their mother bricked the door up…

  38. sunicarus says:

    @Alex K: Your phrase “She couldn’t carry a tune in a bedpan…” made me smile.
    Too funny. Oh, and you’re welcome!

    Here’s a link for you as well:



  39. sunicarus says:

    Hey folks!

    Check out these names: Dady, Ivan Skavinsky Skavar, Tootsie, Alleyoop, Sissy, Aunt Banty…colorful, eh? These are the folks that raised me.

  40. Duncan says:

    Jeez. “Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold” (I ain’t gonna mess with no italics on *this* blog!) was by Elizabeth Lapovsky Kennedy and Madeleine D. Davis, not Lillian Faderman.

    I need to reread “Surpassing the Love of Men,” because I’ve read a lot of criticism of that book, but it does seem clear that she *underplayed* the amount of sexual activity between women in those “romantic friendships,” seeming to think that no women except highborn courtesans with dildoes ever had sex with other women — certainly nice ladies like Sarah Orne Jewett wouldn’t have rubbed up against each other! I think the book was published before Anne Lister’s diaries were published, which kinda shot Faderman’s thesis down. Emma Donoghue’s “Passions Between Women” is also worth a look.

    I’m wary of people who say that we shouldn’t “impose” “our” “concepts” of “sexuality” on people who lived long ago. I suppose for historians that is more important (though in general they handle the problem quite badly), but for the rest of us, why not? “Our” “concepts” are timebound and limited and shouldn’t be privileged, but the same is true of the concepts available to people who lived 150 years ago. I once asked someone online why, if we shouldn’t apply “gay” to people who lived in the 1800s, it was okay to apply “two-spirit” (a term only coined in 1990 or so) to people like We-Wha, the Zuni lhamana who lived in the 1800s. I got only a very confused answer. I don’t think it does anyone any harm if we say that, say, Walt Whitman was gay. Besides, contrary to what I often hear, “gay” and “lesbian” do not have narrowly defined meanings; if anything they are too inclusive sometimes.

    On the other hand, it seems that people have trouble grasping these concepts. For instance, “Dave” isn’t “passing” — look at her hair. People also have a lot of trouble with “identity” for some reason, which they tend to mix up with “orientation” (another messy, confused term) and other concepts.

    But I confess, I’ve been confused and sometimes annoyed by the ease with which a lot of gay people jump to conclusions from photos like the one Alison posted, and assume that any two people of the same sex photographed standing side by side, or with arms around each other’s shoulders or waists, not only had a secret cache of Britney or Phranc CDs, but were bonin’. Maybe yes, maybe no. I think that gay people’s overreadiness to jump to such conclusions is really just the flip side of quasi-straight homophobes’ equal overreadiness to see any sign of same-sex affection (or ability to dance well, in males) as “gay.” (As in, “lol lol what a gay lol lol!”)

    But you know, given the general uneasiness about affection between males in American culture, I just get a nice warm feeling from old photos of men holding hands. If they were having sex, so much the better, but it’s not essential. And whether or not they were tribades, “Dave” and Nonie are one cute couple.

  41. Ellen O. says:

    What’s worse? Jumping to the conclusion that two people of the same sex, one cross-dressed, were lovers or jumping to the conclusion that they weren’t?

    Like my gay brother says, “Assume gay unless proven otherwise!”

  42. sparks says:

    Oops, yes, The internet ate up my post the first time and I apparently deleted the title. I hadn’t heard the criticism; time for me to take another read as well, then. I didn’t recall sex being underplayed as much as the importance of the relationships elevated even if women were married to men, taken especially in the economic context of the times.

  43. sparks says:

    It ate it again! Surpassing the Love of Men, dammit! Why does it keep deleting just that? A conspiracy, most likely. 😉

  44. sunicarus says:

    Ellen O.~
    My thoughts exactly. I enjoyed your brother’s phrase!


  45. Feminista says:

    Duncan–you’re right. Faderman wrote Odd Girls and Twilight lovers. (I’m the Anonymous above–typed my entries in the wee hours of the morning>)

  46. KarenE says:

    Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers was fascinating!

  47. geogeek says:

    My grandmother was one of (I think) 16 children, all but 3 were girls. They were a farm family, and I guess needed the labor. There was a whole slew of great-aunts who moved off the farm and never married. I think a number of them were simply over-dosed with child-raising in their parental home, and choose to live with each other instead of ending up with kids. There were so many of them, and I met them so few times, that I was never really able to separate them out and notice if thre were any women with tendancies towards other women…

  48. Anna says:

    I remember that one of my grandaunts (there were 5 of them an they raised my mother) once said: Why do they have to TALK about homosexuals in media all the time, that is so unsensitive. In the old days they just existed but people were tactfull enough not to discuss such private matters in public.

    I never found out if my aunts were biologically related but as a child I noticed there were 3 family names used in that household..

  49. Dr. Empirical says:

    I think some of this speculation is simply the result of times having changed. Many practices of the past would be looked at differently today.

    It used to be perfectly acceptable to take pictures of naked children.

    It used to be perfectly acceptable to dress little boys in frilly dresses. The transition to pants was a rite of passage.

    Adults sharing a room, or a bed- for warmth, used to be commonplace. Look at the old Abbott and Costello show. Hell, look at Ernie and Bert!

    Costume games and “play-acting” were common passtimes in the days before TV.

    I’m not saying any particular speculation in this thread or the other is wrong, and they’re certainly fun, but as some others have noted, “They were gay” isn’t the only, or even necessarily the best, explanation for what went on.

  50. Nickie says:

    Wonderful photo! I wanted to mention a fun book I picked up titled “Women in Pants: Manly Maidens, Cowgirls, and Other Renegades” by Catherine Smith and Cynthia Greig. It is a fun look at the history of some of these photos. And I think that we can all safely assume that while perhaps some of these relationships did not merge into our modern idea of lesbianism, some bosom buddies had more intense relationships than the other girls.

  51. geogeek says:

    With housing costs going up the way they have been, more of us may start thinking about sharng space with non-lovers…

    How timely of Clarise.

  52. Beth says:

    Replying to someones thread far above this post, when I think of a right-wing feminist I think of Frances Willard, a key player in the temperance movement. She was devoutly Christian and passionate about conservative political issues of the day as well as a lover of women who was dismayed when her crushes and girlfriends married men.

    Oh, and AB, cool photo. I wish I could find some family roots (read “family roots” or “family” roots or family “roots”). Especially in such delightful photographs with cryptic messages.

    So far I’m the only queer as far back as anyone can remember, including extended family. I sometimes feel like the only gay Eskimo in my tribe!

  53. advorunnermom says:

    was also remembering a conversation with a now nearing 80yo cousin of my mother’s who was always out as gay (and was therefore apparently not allowed to babysit my mother’s generation, if memory serves) and she said if this other relative of mine had had any brains she’d be queer, too. that was a hell of a conversation.

  54. April says:

    Just a word on the theme of “Purported Past Perverts” if I may.

    The overarching association with queerness seems to be single status. This slightly annoys me, as I know PLENTY of folks (some personally), past and present, who married – to have children, to be socially accepted, because it was part of the life ‘script’, because their parents found out, because someone bearable of the opposite sex happened along – and were gay as Christmas.

    Many married other queers (that good-ole Lavender Marriage), many married unsuspecting souls who actually loved them. Some left ‘the life’ to be respectable. Many did not, and none too secretive about it neither.

    Just as others above have been at pains to qualify that not all ‘bachelors’ and ‘companions’ were gay/lesbian (though many many were), I have to put in a mention of the hidden queerness of the ‘respectable mother/family man’.

  55. tylik says:

    I wonder a bit at the extent to which we privilege romantic and/or sexual relationships. Culturally there is such a preoccupation with falling in love, and falling in bed… and while I’m not knocking it, I wonder how much this creates the atmosphere in which sexual transgression is such a big deal. Meanwhile, everyone’s stories get reinterpreted into a variant on this one story.

    My cousin died a few years back, in her mid thirties. Due to various involved family politics (and residing on different continents) we hadn’t been in touch for years until right before she died. After her death, a few people in the family expressed, more or less, that they really hoped that she’d be gay, as she’d never been known to be romantically involved with anyone, though it wouldn’t be that surprising for her to have been closeted considering her relationship with her parents.

    But maybe being gay or straight, or having romantic relationships as such wasn’t her story, and maybe that was fine with her. I really hope so. She was easily my favourite cousin. (Okay, so I had a bit of a crush on her since about forever.)

    Having spent most of my life as a polyamorous bisexual, I’ve had few dry spells. And here I am now with perhaps the most effective partnership of my life, and yet one that does not involve me getting laid, and doesn’t map well to most romantic models. I can’t say I’m exactly in favour of the not getting laid part, but even with that this suits me, and doesn’t leave me feeling like I’m trying to cram myself into a box that I just don’t fit.

  56. Lizzie from London says:

    following Dr. Emprical’s comments about the humorous aspects of non gay couples sharing beds here is a clip from Morecambe and Wise which had us all in fits of laughter in Britain when I was a child in the seventies.


    One of the sources of the humour lay in their complete oblivion to any gay connotations.

  57. LizzyRacecar says:

    Um…Bert and Ernie sleep in separate twin beds.

  58. Michael says:

    Just thought I’d mention this fab conference happening in NYC about GLBT archives — http://web.gc.cuny.edu/clags/glbtalms/ — May 8-10. Some of the programs address the issue of making the hidden “queer” more visible and the issues of applying current terminology to past images and texts. Should be interesting.

  59. jude says:

    um. i left a post about collecting photos – at the time i would have been 58 i think -came back to copy it & it’s gone. did i say something wrong?

  60. June says:

    Michael, thanks for the info about the conference. It looks wonderful–I’m going to see if I can attend.

  61. Sam says:

    Check out Lillian Faderman’s Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America. Fascinating read, a decade by decade account of lesbian subculture, includes many historical photos and footnotes.


  62. Feminista says:

    Sam,this was mentioned above on 4/16. Thanks for providing the link. I live a short walk from a Powell’s branch,so I’m spoiled.