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Outlaw Marriages: The Hidden Histories of…

Outlaw Marriages: The Hidden Histories of Fifteen Extraordinary Same-Sex…

by Rodger Streitmatter

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The writing is functional. No more, no less. The fifteen stories are brief but interesting. It included several couples that I had no idea that at least one of them was gay. It includes mainly famous couples from the nineteenth century to the twentieth century. Some couples remained "married" for decades and often only friends and family knew; not the public. Most were quite successful and often the so called quiet partner was the energy to success. I can't say you have to run out and read this book but it was a curiosity and I am curious. Since I could borrow it from the NYPL e-library it was a trial that cost me nothing. ( )
1 vote SigmundFraud | Jul 12, 2014 |
A quick read, relying mainly on secondary sources, Outlaw Marriages is an important reminder that some lesbians and gays have not needed the sanction of the state in order to create fulfilling lives together (The average relationship length here is thirty- five years). The majority of the couples, like social reformer Jane Addams and her partner Mary Rozet Smith, for example, consist of one ‘famous’ person supported by the work of a behind-the-scenes spouse. One of the book’s theses is that the more public partners did their best work when together. While true in some cases (Tennessee Williams and Frank Merlo, for example), this point is debatable in others.
  rmharris | Jul 21, 2012 |
This book doesn't get any points for being ground-breaking. In most of the cases covered, the people are extremely well-known, and no new insights are being provided. The chapters on each couple are quite short-- almost like encyclopedia entries-- and therefore do no cover much ground. They're also very formulaic: almost every relationship sounds relatively identical after awhile, which is not at all the case, in truth-- it's a product of not-so-stellar writing and presentation: They were born, they met, artistic activity flourished, conflict (if applicable), they died with no acknowledgement of their relationship. Period. Reading the book in one sitting gets very repetitive. And if you're reasonably well-versed in the lives of these people (Walt Whitman, Gertrude Stein, Tennessee Williams-- in most cases, there's a pretty good chance you are), I repeat that there is nothing here that is going to come as groundbreaking news or add to your understanding of these people's lives and work. While it does have fairly extensive research, none of the research is particularly fresh or new. If you really want to dig into these "outlaw marriages," seek a good biography of the people who interest you the most instead of this cursory, brief review of facts. ( )
2 vote ijustgetbored | Jun 11, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0807003344, Hardcover)

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. 

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:00 -0400)

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.

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