The improbable story of one of America’s first same-sex marriages
March 21, 2015 2:59 PM   Subscribe

"In their youthful days, they took each other as companions for life, and... this union, no less sacred to them than the tie of marriage, has subsisted, in uninterrupted harmony, for forty years, during which they have shared each other’s occupations and pleasures and works of charity while in health, and watched over each other tenderly in sickness."
posted by Blue Jello Elf (7 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
If you have any interest in this topic I highly recommend Alan Bray's The Friend, which explores legalised, church-blessed unions between people of the same sex for over a thousand years. Many of these unions were not romantic (or possibly more accurately, not sexual), but some of them were; Anne Lister was probably one of the last to take advantage of this arrangement, for all intents and purposes marrying her partner in church in 1834.
posted by Vortisaur at 3:17 PM on March 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

Another local named Hiram Harvey Hurlburt recounted meeting the couple in his diary: “I heard it mentioned as if Miss Bryant and Miss Drake were married to each other,” he wrote. “I always heard they got along pleasantly together … Miss Bryant was the man, this I thought was perfectly proper.”

Some things seem to never change.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:08 PM on March 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

Dip Flash, it says in the article part of the way they were able to gain acceptance in the community was that they fit into accepted gender roles. Playing husband and wife helped them live the way they did.l
posted by lhauser at 4:35 PM on March 21, 2015

Fascinating story, thanks for posting it! A nice illustration of the way some things never change (love/lust) and others do (the way it fits into society).
posted by languagehat at 5:07 PM on March 21, 2015

There are people and there are conventions. When people know people and like those people conventions can sometimes be set aside. Think Dick and Mary Cheney...
posted by jim in austin at 6:14 PM on March 21, 2015

I read Charity and Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America this fall, and I really liked it. I found it readable and enlightening and interesting throughout. Definitely one of the better books I've read in the past year.
posted by julen at 9:02 PM on March 21, 2015

What a sweet story!I think there have always been couples like this in small towns who were just accepted, bachelors and spinsters who were really close and nobody looked further than that. Just another part of life.

Hiram Harvey Hurlburt is a name right out of Dr. Seuss.
posted by mermayd at 3:23 AM on March 23, 2015

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