Wednesday, June 19, 2013

girls will be boys part two

Okay, so I'm back to my Girls Will Be Boys postings from my study of A Queer History of the United States. The subject today is a women named Deborah Sampson Gannett. Gannett was born in 1760 in Massachusetts. In 1782 she decided she wanted to fight in the continental army, so she dressed as a man and joined the military as Robert Shurtliff. She bravely fought in several battles before being wounded in 1783. She needed medical attention due to her injury and that's when she was discovered to be a female. In 1785 she received an honourable discharge and married a man named Robert Gannett. They had children and settled into marriage and family life.
    Any women in the 1700's who was bold enough to join the military dressed as a man and go to battle was not going to be satisfied with a quiet life as a wife and mother. So, in 1797 she wrote a ''semi fictional'' narrative of her life as a cross dressing soldier called The Female Review or Memoirs of an American young Lady, Whose Life and Character are Peculiarly Distinguished-Being a Continental Soldier, for Nearly Three Years, in the Late American War. The narrative makes reference to some encounters with females that imply Lesbian activity. This, along with Gannett's cross dressing, is what suggest that she may have been LGBT. There were many women who dressed as men in the 17th and 18th century simply because they wanted more out of life than to marry, cook, clean and have children or be a prostitute. Some of these women were also LGBT and some were not.
    Anyhow, in 1802 Gannett began a series of public lectures based on her narrative. Her lectures included dressing in her army uniform and demonstrating complicated military drills. The lectures were very popular in Boston and other New England cities. She began her lecture tour to gain attention and public support for a military pension which, after many years of challenges and petitioning, she got in 1816.

No comments:

Post a Comment