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Same Sex Love 1700-1957 (Paperback)

A History and Research Guide

Family History Social History

By Gill Rossini
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 160
ISBN: 9781473854239
Published: 4th July 2017

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Family history is often seen as the stories of people who were part of a traditional family unit, married to someone of the opposite gender, had children and lived their lives as 'normally' as possible. But what of the relatives who could not accept that this was the life for them, and were attracted to same-sex partners? Was it possible for them to live their life as they wished to, with their chosen partner and without hindrance, ridicule or attack? Would they be breaking the law in doing so, and how would family and society react if they were found out?

Some of those concerned married and had children, like the majority, and buried their feelings in the bustle of everyday life; others stayed single but abstained from relationships altogether, as a way of keeping safe. A number managed to live openly and proudly as themselves, challenging the prejudices and misconceptions of the day.

This is the story of all those people, the brave, the discreet, the frightened, the loving and the loved, as well as love against all the odds; more than likely, it is a story that can be found in every family history.

Told in an empathetic and clear-sighted way, this is the first history of same-sex relationships aimed specifically at family historians and offers valuable insights into the lives of those who were often seen as outcasts. It includes research guidance for genealogists researching this often-neglected aspect of family history, and offers invaluable insights into the families, society and culture they lived in.

As featured here...

Books and Things, YouTube Blog - Katie Lumsden

Read it for: A thought-provoking read about how our ancestors navigated same-sex relationships in different eras

Your Family History, October 2017

The aim of this book is "to be a straightforward account of the lives of those who loved others of the same gender" and in that, it succeeds.

WDYTYA? October, 2017 – reviewed by Julie Peakman

★★★★★ I adored this book a whole lot - Rossini's writing style is open, honest, accepting, supportive, and lets the stories tell themselves, rather than to force for an 'out' or to have someone stay in the closet. The chapters take place over 100-year (or so) blocks with the occasional 'case study' or an individual's perspective; the 1700s tell of lesbianism being accepted as women who seek out companionship with other females (i.e. if they're unsuccessfully been able to find and marry male partners) alongside the use of mollie houses for entertainment and casual sex. Later, mollie house owners and guests are arrested and hung for buggery/sodomy/'giving into their desires.' It wouldn't be until 1861 that death penalties for sodomy would be outlawed, both for male-male and male-female intimacy, even if Oscar Wilde would be imprisoned for 'gross sodomy' decades later. Before the 1920s and 1930s, when physiques and fashion would become somewhat androgynous, single suffragettes would be accused of being lesbians, World War I male soldiers would have deep, emotional same-sex relationships, and a social network would be created in England in the LBGTQ community (adopting their own clothing code, signature colours, and secret language of polari). Later, during the Kinsey report studies in the late 1940s and early 1950s, several respondents would report on the commonality of same-sex attraction, experiences, and relationships, even if there would be a McCarthy-style witch hunt for male-male "improper behaviour" in 1957 with police officer decoys.

GoodReads, Kristine Fisher

This book is everything that Peter Ackroyd's Queer City isn't - readable, personable and relatable. I like the historical context and find it a great introduction to Queer history in the UK.

NetGalley, reviewed by Sarah Salmon

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

In Same Sex Love 1700-1957, Gill Rossini offers readers an overview of LGBT history. She considers the lives of those interested in pursuing LGBT relationships across the centuries, along with the legal and social restraints they faced. To do this, she considers court cases, news reports, and the correspondence and experiences of famous figures, and she creates an interesting study that will benefit a diverse readership. While clearly aimed at family history researchers, this book will also appeal to social historians (particularly those with an LGBT-focus) and authors of LGBT historical fiction who are looking for authenticity in their tales.

NetGalley, reviewed by Nicki Markus

Interesting and intriguing book, informative about an untapped about segment of history.

NetGalley, reviewed by Heather Bennett
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