Boston-based writer Russ Lopez will discuss his recently released history of the LGBTQ presence in Massachusetts, from the Pilgrims’ landing in Provincetown in 1620 through the defeat of the anti-trans referendum on the ballot in November, 2018. Mr. Lopez illustrates how LGBTQ people have been a distinctive element in the life of the Commonwealth since the 17th century, challenging gender, sexual, and social norms even in colonial days. Lopez sheds light on such interesting historical phenomena as the “Boston marriages” of the late 19th century and the legacy of “Banned in Boston” relating to things LGBTQ.
Mr. Lopez’s account reveals interesting but relatively unfamiliar facts of how LGBTQ people have participated in Massachusetts society for nearly 400 years. For example, Julia Ward Howe, author of The Battle Hymn of the Republic and a leading Boston socialite, hosted a luncheon for Irish author Oscar Wilde during his American tour in 1882. Criticized for audacity Howe took to the media to defend herself. Lopez also notes that while colonial sodomy laws were severe, no men were executed for sodomy in Massachusetts, in contrast to England and the other American colonies.
Mr. Lopez emphasizes Boston’s many firsts. The Tiffany Fair, Fantasia Fair, and the Trans Day of Remembrance had their origins in the Bay State. Most notably, Massachusetts was the first United States jurisdiction to legalize same-sex marriage starting in 2004. So many national LGBTQ leaders have spent time in the movement in Massachusetts that activists speak of a “Boston Mafia.”
Mr. Lopez showcases the colorful history of the LGBTQ community in a readable and engaging text. Hub of the Gay Universe is especially topical at the time of Stonewall 50.