In recent years, films like Carol , The Handmaiden, and Colette have invigorated the subgenre of the lesbian period drama, winning acclaim for their focus on the potent emotional and sexual lives of women during eras that demanded their desires be kept secret. The upcoming biopics Vita and Virginia and Ammonite suggest that this narrative remains a reliable angle. But while The Favourite was an often absurdist look at the poisonous entanglements of love and control at the center of a cutthroat royal court, Gentleman Jack is a fundamentally less cynical story. Lister is wealthy, charming, and often the most competent individual within any room she strides into; and yet these attributes still cannot protect her from the pervasive violence of homophobia. Her relationship with Walker takes on increasingly material consequences as the season continues. Their aspiration to live as a married couple is constantly shadowed by the threat of social ostracism and even capital punishment, and Lister herself is physical assaulted because of it while walking home alone.
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History of lesbianism
The 19th Century Lesbian Made for 21st Century Consumption
Lesbian content was not unfamiliar to 17th, 18th, and 19th century audiences. Among women of the upper class with means, Lister was hardly alone in forging her own kind of life. Lister was ahead of her time, but not in the obvious way: not because of her desire, or even her willingness to throw off norms. Thanks to her diaries, we also have unprecedented access to how she herself thought of her identity and sexuality, as well as an explicit record of sexual activity. She was therefore dignified with the Title of Chief of the Tribades or Lesbians.
History of lesbianism in the United States
See also: Lesbian literature It was not until the mids that obscenity regulations began to relax and happy endings to lesbian romances became possible. Barbara Gittings and others picketing the White House ; photo by Kay Lahusen The first public protests for equal rights for gay and lesbian people were staged at governmental offices and historic landmarks in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D. Civil Service Commission. Political lesbianism , which embraces the theory that sexual orientation is a political and feminist choice, and advocates lesbianism as a positive alternative to heterosexuality for women as part of the struggle against sexism, originated in the late s among second wave radical feminists.
Around one year earlier, Anne Lister and Ann Walker had moved in together, exchanged rings, and taken communion together in a parish church. Their union was not legally recognized, but they considered themselves married. And on that day in , Lister turned to her diary, as she so often did, to express her happiness. Since , when she was 15 years old, Lister had been unburdening her most intimate thoughts into her journals.