Same Sex Love, 1700–1957: History and Research Sources for Family Historians
Author Gill Rossini gives a one-hour online (Zoom) talk to discuss Same Sex Love, 1700–1957: History and Research Sources for those interested in family History in the UK.
Even in the twenty-first century, family history is often seen predominantly as the stories of people who were part of a traditional family unit, married to someone of the opposite gender, raising children and living 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?
Some of these individuals were indeed married, with children, and buried their own feelings and needs in the bustle of the everyday. Of the rest, some lived a ‘double life’ with a foot in both the normative and the fledgling homosexual communities; still more managed to live openly and proudly as themselves, challenging the prejudices and cultural and legal constraints of the day, often facing ridicule, attack and hindrance. In living openly as themselves, they also risked constant pressure from relatives to conform, or exclusion from their families, never spoken of again.
Whatever path they took, their perceptions and experience of the society they lived in, and the attitudes of most of their relatives towards them, could be dramatically different to that of their less transgressive relatives and neighbours. This complex picture presents many challenges to the family historian, who may not be able to interpret such lives from the usual genealogical sources
Gill Rossini is a pioneer of the study of same sex relationships within a family history context, and has closely researched the resources that can be used to highlight the stories of those who loved outside the ‘norm’ of their day. In this talk she will discuss the challenges of same sex historical research, offer guidance on how to approach and interpret those sources, and using many fascinating examples, will highlight what can be done to bring vividly to life these often elusive ancestors.