Faces Of The Day

lesbian-couple-jet-magazine

From the Queer Museum, the story behind this photo from 1970:

Edna Knowles, on the left, and Peaches Stevens were wed in Liz’s Mark III Lounge, a gay bar on the South Side of Chicago, “before a host of friends and well wishers.” The article ended by noting, “although the duo has a type of ‘marriage license’ in their possession, the state’s official marriage license bureau reported it had no record of their license.” This ending serves to remind Jet readers that Knowles and Stevens’ union was not legitimate in the eyes of the state, as does the use of quotes around the word “married” in the headline.

However, decades prior to this bold public display of queer affection, African American female couples in New York strategized alternative ways to obtain marriage licenses in the 1920s and 30s:

“Marriage ceremonies were held with large wedding parties which included several bridesmaids, attendants, and other wedding party members. Actual marriage licenses were obtained by either masculinizing the first name, or having a gay male surrogate obtain the license for the marrying couple. These marriage licenses were placed on file with the New York City Marriage Bureau.” – Luvenia Pinson, “The Black Lesbian: Times Past-Time Present,” Womanews, May 1980  p. 8.

This is very new from the point of view of legal and heterosexual America. But marriage between two people of the same gender is as old as gay and therefore human history.