Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2020-05-13
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

BOOK REVIEW Charity & Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America
by Terri Schlichenmeyer
2016-03-09

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


By Rachel Hope Cleves, $29.95; Oxford University Press; 267 pages

 

Sometimes, you wonder how Grandma coped.

For most ( if not all ) of her life, she lived without computer or cell phone. She made meals for her family without a microwave, sewed her own clothing, and enjoyed each of the four channels she got on her small-screen TV.

So how did she do it? Conveniences aside, was her life really all that different from yours? Or, as in the book Charity & Sylvia, by Rachel Hope Cleves, is everything old now new again?

Born in the midst of the American Revolution, Charity Bryant was destined from the outset to have an interesting life: she was a sickly infant birthed by a sickly mother who died days after Charity entered the world. Before she passed, though, Silence Bryant christened the baby after her spinster-sister, an act that may have "pointed [Charity] to a model of womanhood that differed significantly from her [mother's]."

Somewhat coddled by her elder siblings but detested by her stepmother, Charity grew with a "passion for making friends with other young women…" At this time, intimate "romantic relationships" among same-sex friends was lightly encouraged by parents and carefully watched—at least until the couple "gave reasons for concern."

And Charity wholeheartedly offered exactly that. She was "the cause of tensions in a number of communities" and, since she was a "mannish"-looking teacher of young women, was the victim of "vicious gossip" that kept her on the move. Girls, you see, had only recently been allowed an education, and their schools had reputations for an "erotic atmosphere."

It didn't help that Charity was a bit of a female rake, and left a string of broken hearts in the wake of her escapes. A renowned poet, and she and her amours filled stacks of letters with romance and steam, love and longing, though Charity seemed to want to remain footloose. She "believed in marriage, just not for herself."

But then, in 1807, while on the run from yet another sullied reputation, Charity left Massachusetts and moved to Vermont. There, she met Sylvia Drake, a relative of her hosts, and there was a "spark…"

Okay, so I have to admit that, with its teeny-tiny print and erudite look, I was expecting Charity & Sylvia to be dry as a dead creek bed. I'm likewise happy to admit I was dead wrong.

Starting with the birth of the woman on whom author Cleves focuses most, this book opens with a slice of life during the Revolutionary War. We then move back and forth in narrative, but Cleves never lets us forget the time and space that her subjects inhabited, the social mores, the historical aspects, nor the seemingly inconsistent attitudes toward romance and sex that our forebears held and that which we've been led to believe they had. I found that deeply fascinating and highly entertaining.

I think that if you're a fan of history ( LGBT or otherwise ), this is something you'll relish. With chaste retelling and its abundant details, Charity & Sylvia is your grandmother's book—and yours, too.

Want more? Look for Queer America, by Vicki L. Eaklor; or A Queer History of the United States, by Michael Bronski.


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

NCLR honors SF 49ers Offensive Assistant Coach Katie Sowers, comedian Gina Yashere 2020-05-23 - SAN FRANCISCO, CA — The National Center of Lesbian Rights ( NCLR ) today announced that they will be honoring San Francisco 49ers ...


Gay News

Brave Space Alliance announces board of directors 2020-05-21 - Brave Space Alliance—a Black- and trans-led "LGBTQ center on the South Side of Chicago that is dedicated to creating and providing affirming, culturally ...


Gay News

Red Stars hosting virtual Pride party on May 28 2020-05-21 - The Chicago Red Stars will kick off pride month in Chicago by teaming with local businesses and talent for a virtual Pride Party ...


Gay News

Affinity to mark 25th anniversary virtually 2020-05-21 - Co-chairs and the Affinity Community Services board of directors recently announced that Affinity's 25th-anniversary event will be a virtual experience taking place the ...


Gay News

Roe v. Wade plaintiff said she was paid for anti-abortion stance 2020-05-20 - Norma McCorvey, the anonymous plaintiff in the landmark Roe v. Wade case, came out against abortion in 1995, stunning the world—but a deathbed ...


Gay News

Ruby Rose leaving lead role in 'Batwoman' 2020-05-19 - Ruby Rose—the openly lesbian actress who starred in the CW's freshman drama series Batwoman—is leaving the Warner Bros. TV/Berlanti Prods. drama after one ...


Gay News

PASSAGES A tribute to H.G. Carrillo 2020-05-18 - Afro-Cuban writer/professor Herman "H.G." Carrillo ( known for his 2004 novel Loosing My Espanish, which deals with the experience of a Cuban immigrant ...


Gay News

Golden Apple surprises out teacher with award 2020-05-16 - On May 15, Golden Apple—an Illinois nonprofit committed to preparing, honoring and supporting exemplary educators who advance educational opportunities for students—surprised Jenine Wehbeh, ...


Gay News

Gerber/Hart Library hosts virtual panel on The 10% Show 2020-05-16 - The 10% Show was the focus of a May 13 virtual panel hosted by Gerber/Hart Library and Archives. A cable access Chicago-based LGBTQ ...


Gay News

'Andersonville at Home' virtual event June 12 2020-05-16 - The Andersonville Chamber of Commerce ( ACC ) is taking the Midsommarfest experience online for a virtual event and fundraiser Friday, June 12, ...


 



Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.