In 1928, British lesbian author Radclyffe Hall wrote a tragic novel of lesbian love, The Well of Loneliness; after the book was banned in England, Hall lost her first American publisher.In New York, John Saxton Sumner of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice and several police detectives seized 865 copies of The Well from her second American publisher's offices, and Donald Friede was charged with selling an obscene publication.
Lesbian actress Charlotte Cushman, (left) as Romeo, with her sister Susan as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet in 1846.
Nineteenth century lesbians like Cushman presented themselves publicly as close friends with their romantic partners.
In the 19th century, lesbians were only accepted if they hid their sexual orientation and were presumed to be merely friends with their partners.
For example, the term "Boston marriage" was used to describe a committed relationship between two unmarried women who were usually financially independent and often shared a house; The earliest published studies of lesbian activity were written in the early 20th century, and many were based on observations of, and data gathered from, incarcerated women.
His argument relied on a comparison with Mademoiselle de Maupin by Théophile Gautier, which had been cleared of obscenity in the 1922 case Halsey v. Mademoiselle de Maupin described a lesbian relationship in more explicit terms than The Well did.
According to Ernst, The Well had greater social value because it was more serious in tone and made a case against misunderstanding and intolerance.
It would have read, "Unnatural filthiness, to be punished with death, whether sodomy, which is carnal fellowship of man with man, or woman with woman, or buggery, which is carnal fellowship of man or woman with beasts or fowls." In 1779, Thomas Jefferson proposed a law stating that, "Whosoever shall be guilty of rape, polygamy, or sodomy with man or woman shall be punished, if a man, by castration, if a woman, by cutting thro' the cartilage of her nose a hole of one half inch diameter at the least, " but this also did not become law.
However, in 1649 in Plymouth Colony, Sarah White Norman and Mary Vincent Hammon were prosecuted for "lewd behavior with each other upon a bed"; their trial documents are the only known record of sex between female English colonists in North America in the 17th century.
Phelps then told Eisenhower, "Sir, you're right, there are lesbians in the WACs – and if you want to replace all the file clerks, section commanders, drivers, every woman in the WAC detachment, I will be happy to make that list.
But you must know, sir, that they are the most decorated group – there have been no illegal pregnancies, no AWOLs, no charges of misconduct." 1952 also saw the publication of lesbian classic "The Price of Salt", written by lesbian Patricia Highsmith under the false name Clare Morgan, in which the women break up but are implied to possibly get back together in the end.
It was written by a lesbian secretary named Edith Eyde, writing under the pen name Lisa Ben, an anagram for lesbian.