Windy City Media Group Frontpage News Home
CELEBRATING 28+ YEARS OF Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender NEWS

Search Gay News Articles
Advanced Search
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2014-12-17
Download Issue
  News Index   About WCMG    Publications    Bars & Clubs     Calendar   Videos   Advertisers    OUT! Guide    Classifieds     AIDS @ 32       Marriage
 Local | National | World | Politics | Obits | Profiles | Views | Entertainment | Theater | Dance | Music | Film | Art | Books | TV/Gossip
 Travel | History | Marriage | Youth | Trans | Lesbian | Celebrations | Food | Nightlife | Sports | Health | Real Estate | Autos | Pets | Crime

Sponsor
Critics' Picks and Theater Spotlight Critics' Picks and Theater Spotlight
Theater Spotlight Get a dose of circus-infused Christmas-style spectacle with Cirque Dreams ...

Browse Gay News Index   Browse Gay News Archives
  Windy City Times

Re-Dressing America's Frontier Past
BOOK REVIEW
by Terri Schlichenmeyer
2012-11-13

facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email


by Peter Boag $39.95; Univ. of Calif. Press; 257 pages

The outfit was beyond your budget.

It was impractical, too, because you'd probably never wear it. It looked great on, it fit just right, it was so perfect, but it would just hang in your closet. Still….

You couldn't whip your credit card out fast enough.

Do clothes make the (wo)man? Are we what we wear? In the new book Re-Dressing America's Frontier Past, author Peter Boag proves that those questions plagued our ancestors more than history admits.

Joe Monahan's neighbors were shocked.

The fall of 1903 was short and winter came early. Tough and self-sufficient, Joe had come to the Mallory ranch complaining of illness and he didn't look good. Shortly after his arrival, he died in the warmth of his neighbors' home.

The shock came when they went to prepare Joe's body for burial: Grizzled Joe Monahan was a woman.

Boag says that such scenarios were common in the West in the decades between 1850 and 1920. Cross-dressers, for myriad reasons, were "very much a part of daily life…" and while people tittered and talked, general attitudes were based on late-19th-century beliefs on gender. Medical experts eventually claimed that cross-dressing was part of a "neurological disease" called homosexuality, and "…homosexuality was understood as an unfortunate by-product of modernization."

However, button-holing wasn't so easy.

For women, the frontier was a man's world. There was adventure and prosperity there, and becoming a man as much as possible was a way to seize opportunity. Safety was another reason for appearing masculine, cross-dressing could be scandalous fun, and it could help escape punishment for criminal behavior. There were also women who believed themselves to be boys from birth.

For smooth-faced men, it was common to dress as women for dances and parties because biological women were scarce. Men impersonated women to entertain others. In some Native American communities, "berdaches" were encouraged to embrace femininity. Like some women, males took on girlish appearances to escape crime, and then there were the men who simply wanted to "be" women.

But for those men, and their female counterparts, life wasn't easy.

Being arrested for the "crime" of wearing clothes for the opposite sex was common and cross-dressers were often shunned. Interestingly, however, their partners (usually same-sex) were generally socially accepted.

Re-Dressing America's Frontier Past is good, but long.

Boag offers lots of excellent examples to back up his reasoning behind why these stories are largely hidden from history, and what he found will set western fans (not to mention screenwriters) on their ears. This is fascinating stuff, on many levels.

And yet, the book has its distractions. It's very scholarly and often reads like a dissertation, which occasionally makes it hard to read if you're just looking for a peek at hidden history and not a lecture.

That aside, because it uncovers a wealth of stories that are overdue for telling, I liked "Re-Dressing America's Frontier Past" and I think you will, too. If you're a Western History buff especially, you need to outfit yourself with this book soon.

Want more? Look for Best Little Stories of the Wild West by C. Brian Kelly; or Outrageous Women of the American Frontier by Mary Rodd Furbee.


facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg 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.

Children's book about embracing differences 2014-12-17
Gerber/Hart looks back at 2014, receives major grant 2014-12-14
Women & Children First to host Sarah Ruhl 2014-12-11
BOOK REVIEW I Am Jazz 2014-12-10
Robbie Rogers' wild ride, new book, 'Coming Out to Play' 2014-12-10
BOOKS The editors of Black Gay Genius on Joseph Beam 2014-12-10
Lecturer Atshan talks 'pinkwashing,' life in the West Bank 2014-12-09
BOOK REVIEW Porn Again 2014-12-09
HIV-positive beauty queen discusses journey 2014-12-09
The Deception of the Thrush 2014-12-09
Making his Marc: Author Solomon recalls 'winning marriage' 2014-12-03
Fred Says donates; W&CF raises money to renovate 2014-12-03
Rita Mae Brown on new book, coming out and 'Rubyfruit Jungle' 2014-12-03
Appearing: John D'Emilio, Lisa Fischer, Alan Safier 2014-12-03
Holiday gift guide to new LGBTQ-inclusive kids' books 2014-12-02
Gerber/Hart Library and Archives open meeting Dec. 11 2014-12-01
'Rubyfruit' Author Rita Mae Brown in Chicago Dec. 9 2014-11-26
BOOKS Talking with iconic author Felice Picano 2014-11-26
Winning Marriage book event, Library exhibit explores marriage 2014-11-24
BOOK REVIEW The Christmas Truck 2014-11-24
Penny Severns book: The price of a closeted political life 2014-11-23
Eileen Myles reads from forthcoming dog memoir 2014-11-12
Richard Blanco reflects on his personal journey 2014-11-05
BOOK REVIEW Male Sex Work and Society 2014-11-05
Sex Workers Unite: History of the Movement 2014-11-05
BOOK REVIEW The Marriage Act: The Risk I Took... 2014-11-05
Photo book documents 1980s same-sex couples 2014-11-05
Rita Mae Brown at Chicago Public Library Dec. 9 2014-11-01
Elton visits John Kerry; anti-Cory Booker mishap; Apple CEO 2014-10-29
GayRomLit retreat meets in Chicagoland 2014-10-29
Anti-gay group's Glenn Stanton talks bigotry, marriage 2014-10-29
What I Know for Sure 2014-10-29
BOOK REVIEW Gaybash 2014-10-22
Alison Bechdel: Artist, genius and instigator of change 2014-10-22
Upcoming events in film, music, poetry 2014-10-22
John Rechy: On gay sensibility, melding truth and fiction 2014-10-21
Jennifer Knapp: Lesbian releases album, book with sense of self 2014-10-21
'Culture worrier' Clarence Page reflects on 50 years of change 2014-10-21
The Bijou Chronicles Steven Toushin 2014-10-15
Eileen Myles: Queer, funny, feminist stand-up and poetry 2014-10-12





Copyright © 2014 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.

 

 

 

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 

No SCOTUS stay, same-sex marriages to begin in Florida Jan. 6
 
Myles Brady: Howard Brown's first transgender outreach coordinator
 
National: LGBT bill in Congress; trans soldiers; blood ban
 
TRAVEL Adults-only spots in Cancun
 
March, vigil stress that sex workers' lives matter, too
 
Windy City Times Current DownloadNightspots Current DownloadQueercast Current Download
Windy City Media Group BlogsJoin Our Email List!Donate Now
Sponsor


Sponsor

  News Index   About WCMG    Publications    Bars & Clubs     Calendar   Videos   Advertisers    OUT! Guide    Classifieds     AIDS @ 32       Marriage
 Local | National | World | Politics | Obits | Profiles | Views | Entertainment | Theater | Dance | Music | Film | Art | Books | TV/Gossip
 Travel | History | Marriage | Youth | Trans | Lesbian | Celebrations | Food | Nightlife | Sports | Health | Real Estate | Autos | Pets | Crime



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      News Videos      Nightspots Videos      Entertainment Videos      Queercast Videos      Comedy Videos     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.