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Public Faces, Secret Lives

A Queer History of the Women's Suffrage Movement
Honorable Mention for the 2023 Francis Richardson Keller-Sierra Prize 2023 Judy Grahn Award-Publishing Triangle Finalist Restores queer suffragists to their rightful place in the history of the struggle for women's right to vote The women's suffrage movement, much like many other civil rights movements, has an important and often unrecognized queer history. In Public Faces, Secret Lives Wendy L. Rouse reveals that, contrary to popular belief, the suffrage movement included a variety of individuals who represented a range of genders and sexualities. However, owing to the constant pressure to present a "respectable" public image, suffrage leaders publicly conformed to gendered views of ideal womanhood in order to make women's suffrage more palatable to the public. Rouse argues that queer suffragists did take meaningful action to assert their identities and legacies by challenging traditional concepts of domesticity, family, space, and death in both subtly subversive and radically transformative ways. Queer suffragists also built lasting alliances and developed innovative strategies in order to protect their most intimate relationships, ones that were ultimately crucial to the success of the suffrage movement. Public Faces, Secret Lives is the first work to truly recenter queer figures in the women's suffrage movement, highlighting their immense contributions as well as their numerous sacrifices.
Wendy L. Rouse is Associate Professor of History at San Jose State University and the author of Her Own Hero: The Origins of the Women's Self-Defense Movement (NYU, 2017) and Public Faces, Private Lives: A Queer History of the Suffrage Movement (NYU, 2022).
"It's time that their stories were told ... From the brutality of prison force-feedings to the vaudeville ditty 'No Wedding Bells for Me,' the LGBTQ+ historical survey Public Faces, Secret Lives reveals the movements behind the suffrage campaign with verve." * Foreword Reviews * "Public Faces, Secret Lives brings to life the work and names of the queer champions of the women's suffrage movement, restoring their rightful place in history and feminism, intersectional as it should be. Author Wendy L. Rouse highlights the radical, innovative action queer suffragists took to challenge traditions around family, love and death - and shows us how they had a lasting, crucial impact on the success of the suffrage movement." * Buzzfeed * "A stunning achievement, Public Faces, Secret Lives provides a long overdue history of queer suffragists and their integral role in the movement. " -- Emily Skidmore, author of True Sex: The Lives of Trans Men at the Turn of the Twentieth Century "Not only a powerful revision of the largely heteronormative framings of the suffrage movement, Public Faces, Secret Lives is also testament to the queer community's power to reimagine and revolutionize social movements today." -- Leila J. Rupp, author of the 2015 Lambda Literary Award winner, Understanding and Teaching U.S. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History "Asking new questions of old stories - that is what Wendy Rouse has superbly done by turning a queer eye on the women's suffrage movement. Hiding in plain sight, or sometimes hidden by historical erasure, queer women were central figures in the movement, providing models of activism and non-heteronormative behavior for those who follow in their footsteps." -- Susan Ware, author of Why They Marched: Untold Stories of the Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote "A long-overdue account of the queer women within the suffrage movement who were never given the credit they deserved for their contributions. Rouse successfully conveys how queer suffragists positively impacted the suffrage movement and the future of feminism by challenging traditional views surrounding gender, domesticity, love, and death." * Bust * "Rouse, a historian, highlights the often unrecognized queer history of the women's suffrage movement and argues that queer suffragists challenged traditional notions of family, space and death both subtly and radically." * The New York Times *
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