Thursday, June 20, 2013

girls will be boys part three

The last early American cross dresser to discuss from A Queer History of the United States is one who never actually existed but was a popular literary character in the nineteenth century. Her name was Lucy Brewer and she was the main character in Nathaniel Hill's The Female Marine or The Adventures of Miss Lucy Brewer. The book was a first person narrative based on real life cross dressing soldier Deborah Sampson Gannett A.K.A Robert Shurtliff, whom I profiled in my last post.
    Brewer had had a hard life before becoming a sailor. She was raped, impregnated and lost the child. She was then forced to work in a Boston brothel. She fled the brothel and decided to dress as man and become a sailor. She sails aboard  the USS Constitution for three years and eventually marries a wealthy man. Some of her adventures as a sailor include coded sexual encounters with other females. The book became so popular that it spawned five sequels!
     I believe these 18th/19th century women, including the fictitious Lucy Brewer, were the first wave of ''activists'' for LGBT rights, even thought they would never have identified themselves as such. How could they have. There weren't even names for same gender loving people yet except the derogatory ''sodomite,'' which at least denoted an existence.
     Whether or not these women represented the ''L'' and or the "B'' in the acronym LGBT they most definitely represented the ''T.'' And they hit the ground running by emerging at the very beginning of the United States birth. History tells us that all oppressed groups; African-Americans, Women, Native Americans and now LGBT's were determined to make the new nation live up to it's cry that all men, even if they were wo-men, men who loved men or women who dressed like men, are created equal. The macho, virile, rugged and ultra masculine image that the founders envisioned for the new nation, and that I talk about in my post entitled Progressiveness and a Fabricated Man, did hit the ground but did it ever really start running?

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