“Well Known as Miss Betty Cooper”: Gender Expression in 18th-Century Boston

Miss Betty Cooper may not be “well known” to modern historians, but the ad claims that she was “well known” in Revolutionary-era Boston. In the years before the American Revolution, Boston newspapers routinely advertised the sale and recapture of enslaved people alongside news of Massachusetts’ resistance to British rule. In these ads, enslavers provided descriptions[…]

‘Dinnae Meddle!’: Scotland and the Historiography of Homosexual Law Reform

Scotland has its own independent legal system, education system and religious institutions, and gay men were criminalized there long after England ended their laws. A curious, or perhaps irksome, aspect of ‘British’ approaches to the history of sexuality is that they tend to neglect the variation of experience within the United Kingdom. I’ve lost count[…]

Three Wise Men in a Bed: Bedsharing and Sexuality in Medieval Europe

One of the biggest challenges facing medieval historians is interpreting the actions of individuals at a remove of several centuries. One of the biggest challenges facing medieval historians, and perhaps especially historians of medieval sexuality, is interpreting the actions of individuals at a remove of several centuries. Take, for example, the case of King Richard[…]

Tempests and Teapots: Sexual Politics and Tea-Drinking in the Early Modern World

The Boston Tea Party, a foundational moment of political rebellion, was a protest against tea, and tea itself was freighted with sexual meanings. The American Revolution is impossible to understand without food and sex at its center. The Boston Tea Party, a foundational moment of political rebellion, was a protest against tea, and tea itself was[…]

George Platt Lynes: An Early-20th Century Gay Photographer and His Legacy

Lynes was a highly sought-after commercial and fashion photographer in the 1930s and 1940s. But he had to keep his most important body of work hidden away. From the late 1920s until his death in 1955, George Platt Lynes was one of the world’s most successful commercial and fine art photographers. His work was included[…]