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Outlaw Marriages: The Hidden Histories of Fifteen Extraordinary Same-Sex Couples Hardcover – May 15, 2012

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Outlaw Marriages: The Hidden Histories of Fifteen Extraordinary Same-Sex Couples + The Invisibles: Vintage Portraits of Love and Pride. Gay Couples in the Early Twentieth Century
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Outlaw Marriages gloriously outs same-sex couples through history and celebrates their love and impact in theater, arts, and social change. If you love the guilty pleasure of reading People magazine for your celebrity-couple news, you'll love this book. And the fact-checking is flawless!"—Kate Clinton, humorist

“The volume will have particular appeal to readers of gender studies, but these stories ultimately prove that true partnership is gender blind.”—Publishers Weekly

“A thoroughly interesting look at gay and lesbian love, life and relationships.”—EDGE 

“Fifteen love marriages that dared not speak their name defied laws and mores, flouted conventions, and live today in Streitmatter’s essential, well-documented history.”—Booklist

“A nice gift for just the right couple.”—Kirkus Reviews 

"An engaging and well-researched volume with broad appeal to the LGBTQ crowd (especially couples) as well as social historians."–Library Journal

"In Outlaw Marriages he distills a wealth of information down to a lively and effective series of double portraits.”—The Gay and Lesbian Review

“…Streitmatter expertly threads together the historical backgrounds and incredible courage of these couples… it’s a damn good bunch of stories told in a very approachable 160-ish pages.”—The Stranger 

About the Author

Rodger Streitmatter, a former newspaper reporter, is a member of the School of Communication faculty at American University. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his husband, Tom Grooms.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; First Edition edition (May 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807003344
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807003343
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.8 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,342,490 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rodger Streitmatter is the author of "Outlaw Marriages: The Hidden Histories of Fifteen Extraordinary Same-Sex Couples" (Beacon Press, 2012). He is a journalist and cultural historian whose work explores how the media have helped to shape American culture. He is currently a professor in the School of Communication at American University and is the author of seven previous books.

Photographer Copyright Credit Name: Jeff Watts, 2011.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Margaret Mullins on May 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I vaguely knew, before reading this book, that many of the people profiled in it were gay--people such as Walt Whitman, Jane Addams and Aaron Copland. But I had no idea that each one of them had a partner who played a critical role in their success. I didn't know, for example, that a man named Peter Doyle served as the muse for Whitman when he wrote many of the poems in Leaves of Grass. I loved learning how Whitman and Peter Doyle met. This book taught me that, as well as the similar "back story" about 14 other couples who became partners long before gay marriage became a national issue. I found it fascinating to learn about the internal dynamics of these various couples, and I appreciate that the author didn't whitewash the relationship but included the betrayals and other difficulties they struggled with. If you like books that are an easy read and also teach you a great deal, Outlaw Marriages is a great choice.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By J. McIntyre on May 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I started this book, I thought I would learn about important same-sex couples from the past and how their relationships worked when there was such a strong stigma against homosexuality. The book definitely fulfilled my expectations in that regard. What I also learned by the time I finished the book, though, was so much wonderful detail about the contributions that these various couples made.

With the artists Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, for example, I learned that Rauschenberg played a critical role in Johns painting his most recognized work. The two men were living together, and one morning Johns got up and said, just in passing, that he had a dream about painting the American flag. Johns was just saying this in a matter-of-fact way, sort of laughing at the idea. But Rauschenberg took it seriously. He said that maybe that idea had merit, so he encouraged Johns to go ahead and paint what he had seen himself painting in the dream. So then Johns did it. So, in reality, if Rauschenberg had not been there, Johns may never have painted one of modern art's most iconic works.

The same sort of scenario played out with other couples, too. If Alice B. Toklas had not been so determined to see that Gertrude Stein's works were published, they probably never would have been. And if Bessie Marbury had not encouraged Elsie de Wolfe to start charging people for decorating their homes, she never would have become America's first interior designer.

In the end, this book shows you how important a partner or a spouse or a husband or a wife can be--whether they are of different sexes or the same sex.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dave Parker VINE VOICE on June 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This non-fiction book is a compilation of 15 same-sex marriages with at least one well-known partner over a period from the mid 1860's through the current day. Most of these outlaw marriages involved at least one partner in the public eye, including theatre, films, painting, illustrating, and education. Most readers will recognize at least one partner in each partnership. These are couples who made significant contributions to our American culture.
Obviously, none of them were married in the socially accepted meaning of the word. Many of the relationships were generally closeted, but in those instances some of their close friends were aware and accepting, if not supportive. One of the partners in all of them achieved such public stature that even the press - well knowing their same-sex attraction - would not publicly condemn them.
Still, these couples suffered some of the same injustices we see today. Some of their families could not accept their relationships. In some cases, their careers were hobbled by their same-sex attraction. In many cases, infidelity on the part of one or both partners led to the dissolution of their relationships, even after several decades. In almost every partnership, their relationships were completely ignored in published obituaries at their death.
These short biographies take neither an accepting nor condemning tone. They are well-researched, using letters between the partners and to their friends and published individual biographies as confirmed sources. They are well written, making this book a pleasure to read.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Amaranth on August 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover
"Outlaw Marriages" is a surprisingly relevant book... most of the couples are from the early 20th century, long before same-sex marriage became the subject of debate (and popular vote) Roger Streitmatter's argument is that same-sex couples, while they haven't produced children, have enriched American culture, human rights. Simply adding to the population does not constitute a marriage. He has recently wed his boyfriend, so in his case, the personal is political.

"Outlaw Marriages" mainly has couples in the arts. Streitmatter discusses Tennessee Williams (Tennessee Williams Film Collection (A Streetcar Named Desire 1951 Two-Disc Special Edition / Cat on a Hot Tin Roof 1958 Deluxe Edition / Sweet Bird of Youth / The Night of the Iguana / Baby Doll / The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone)), whose partner helped him stay sober&produce art. Walt Whitman (Leaves of Grass) found his Muse in his longtime partner Peter Doyle. Gertrude Stein and her partner Alice B. Toklas (The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book) transformed art.... and cooking, with their fashionable Parisian salon. Stein wasn't only a poet, but helped fellow artists like Pablo Picasso. Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg changed modern painting/art/collage. Mercedes de Acosta tutored her lover Greta Garbo (
...Read more ›
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