How can we tell whether someone was gay? There are many answers to that question, but ultimately we cannot know whether a person who lived in the past would be considered lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender today. That does not mean that we cannot study gay history. Individuals took part in same-sex relationships, wrote poems and novels celebrating such relationships, deviated from gender norms, and suffered for transgressive behavior in ways that are well-documented in the historical record. Beneath the covers of our books there are many stories. To paraphrase the late gay activist Harry Hay (1912-2002), history knows more about gay people than it knows it knows.
Curated by Cornelia King, 2014.