Synopses & Reviews
For more than a century before gay marriage became a hot-button political issue, same-sex unions flourished in America. Pairs of men and pairs of women joined together in committed unions, standing by each other “for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health” for periods of thirty or forty—sometimes as many as fifty
—years. In short, they loved and supported each other every bit as much as any husband and wife.
In Outlaw Marriages, cultural historian Rodger Streitmatter reveals how some of these unions didn’t merely improve the quality of life for the two people involved but also enriched the American culture.
Among the high-profile couples whose lives and loves are illuminated in the following pages are Nobel Peace Prize winner Jane Addams and Mary Rozet Smith, literary icon Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, author James Baldwin and Lucien Happersberger, and artists Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg.
"Cultural historian and American University professor Streitmatter (Mightier Than the Sword) absorbingly details the public and private lives of notable same-sex couples, deftly examining affairs, betrayals, and disappointments, as well as the enabling power that the right marriage, recognized or not, provides. Many of the pairs comprised a famous and not-so-famous member: Walt Whitman's much younger partner and muse, Peter Doyle, sold streetcar tickets and worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad, while Greta Garbo's upper-crust partner, Mercedes de Acosta, taught the star, who came from a poor family, rules of etiquette and style. The thoroughly researched, lovingly rendered joint histories including Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Tennessee Williams and Frank Merlo, Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns share a common thread that is less about gender than partnership-as-catalyst. Toklas championed Stein's writing and became her literary agent; Rauschenberg encouraged Johns to act on the content of a bizarre dream and paint the American flag; Merlo 'single-handedly stabilized Tennessee Williams's life and career.' When James Baldwin seemed 'on the verge of a nervous breakdown,' his partner, artist Lucien Happersberger, whisked him off to a Swiss village where he could focus on his work. The volume will have particular appeal to readers of gender studies, but these stories ultimately prove that true partnership is gender blind. Agent: Howard Yoon, Ross Yoon. (May)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Years before gay marriage became a hot-button political issue, same-sex unions flourished in America. In Outlaw Marriages, cultural historian Rodger Streitmatter reveals that gay marriage isn't a twenty-first-century idea. He spans over a hundred years and profiles fifteen couples who made major contributions to this country in an impressive range of fields--from music and education to journalism and modern art. Among the notables whose lives and loves are profiled are poet Walt Whitman, literary icon Gertrude Stein, movie legend Greta Garbo, playwright Tennessee Williams, novelist James Baldwin, and activist Audre Lorde. While no partnership is the same—some were tumultuous, while others were more supportive and long-lasting—all changed the course of American history.
About the Author
Rodger Streitmatter is a journalist and cultural historian whose work explores how the media have helped to shape American culture. He is currently a professor in the School of Communication at American University and is the author of seven previous books.
Table of Contents
Walt Whitman & Peter Doyle
Revolutionizing American Poetry
Martha Carey Thomas & Mamie Gwinn
Opening Graduate Education to American Women
Ned Warren & John Marshall
Building the Collections of America’s Art Museums
Mary Rozet Smith & Jane Addams
Breaking New Ground in Social Reform and Global Peace
Bessie Marbury & Elsie de Wolfe
Founding the Field of Interior Design
J. C. Leyendecker & Charles Beach
Taking the Art of Illustration to a New Level
Alice B. Toklas & Gertrude Stein
Expanding the Dimensions of American Literature
Janet Flanner & Solita Solano
Pioneering a New Style of Journalism
Greta Garbo & Mercedes de Acosta
Making Hollywood the Celebrity Capital of the World
Aaron Copland & Victor Kraft
Inventing a Distinctly American Style of Music
Frank Merlo & Tennessee Williams
Lifting American Theater to New Heights
James Baldwin & Lucien Happersberger
Attacking Racism through Literature
Robert Rauschenberg & Jasper Johns
Expanding the Definition of Art
Ismail Merchant & James Ivory
Turning Literary Works into Sumptuous Films
Frances Clayton & Audre Lorde
Raising a Voice for Women of Color