October is LGBTQ History Month, and with these stories from our pages, the curious can take a trip in time from premodern eras to the queer future. LGBTQ histories are often difficult to write, because the documents that can tell historians about heterosexual and cisgender people might have nothing more than hints about queer lives. The scholarship in the stories below show that silences in archives and in the present can be overcome.
For more, check out our LGBTQ Pride Month roundup.
June 10, 2020
So tender was Emperor Ai’s love for his "male companion" that, when he had to get up, instead of waking his lover, he cut off the sleeve of his robe.
September 27, 2020
As far back as the ninth century, doctors and poets wrote about women who loved women without calling them deviants.
August 15, 2019
In 1776, a 24-year-old Quaker woman named Jemima Wilkinson died of fever, and came back to life as a prophet known as the Publick Universal Friend.
July 5, 2019
Sex between people of the same gender has existed for millennia. But anthropologists in sub-Saharan Africa often ignored or distorted those relationships.
May 16, 2018
Mother Superior Benedetta Carlini, a visionary nun of Renaissance Italy, was accused of heresy and “female sodomy.”
April 27, 2018
In the Old West, cross-dressing was sometimes a disguise for criminals on the lam. But, one historian argues, in many cases these “cross-dressers” were probably people who we would identify as transgender today.
March 14, 2019
Sometimes finding the stories of marginalized populations demands reading between the lines.
July 12, 2018
Vernon Lee was a widely-read writer of 19th-century ghost stories, called the "cleverest woman in Europe." Her life story was pretty fascinating, too.
January 29, 2020
The queer history of the pansy and other flowers.
November 18, 2018
Remembering an early academic effort to define sexual orientation and gender identity as variable natural phenomena, rather than moral matters.
October 2, 2018
One scholar argues that Judy Garland's role in A Star is Born was so pivotal because it involved both gender impersonation and “racial drag."
August 1, 2019
Between 1950 and 1965, steamy novels about lesbian relationships, marketed to men, inadvertently offered closeted women much-needed representation.
October 1, 2020
At a time when trans people who wanted surgery needed to trust doctors, transphobia made it difficult.
March 13, 2019
When Audre Lorde wrote from St. Croix that Hurricane Hugo would not be the last natural disaster of its scale, she was pointing to human failures.
June 7, 2020
One scholar explains how the LGBT movement became focused on advancing the rights of a narrow set of people at the expense of its once-radical vision.
May 18, 2015
The first high school LGBT group started in the 1970s.