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Whether they found romance in ancient Egypt or a s salon, the history of queer people and their lovers is rich with devotion, betrayal, and activism. Throughout history, same-sex couples have fallen in and out of love and experienced joy and heartbreak, just like anyone else.

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For anyone who can't get enough of vintage love stories, here are 17 same-sex couples who have defined queer romance over the centuries. The ladies men at a s dinner party where Woolf offered to publish a book Vita had been working on with her husband a few years earlier. Relating to each other over their emotionally absent parents, they became confidants and lovers from then on. Together, the two flourished creatively. During their year relationshipWest inspired the gender-shifting protagonist of Woolf's Orlando: Married adults friends very masc for similar Biography.

Woolf, who had been abused by her half-brother, opened up about it to West, and with her, Woolf was for the first time in her life able to have a satisfying sexual relationship. Their husbands also showed a high level of respect. Although both ladies' spouses knew about the affair, they never did anything about it. West and her husband had an open marriage, while Virginia's husband wanted his wife to be happy. Their love certainly stood the test of time — ancient times, to be exact. The two were servants who lived in Egypt around BC.

Manicurists to the royal court who waited upon the pharaoh himself, Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum were found buried together in the tomb of King Unas. How do we know they were lovers? Their bodies were intertwined and their faces were nose-to-nose, a tradition that marked the dead as married couples. When their tomb was discovered inthey were reported to be brothers.

But in the late s, Egyptologist Greg Reeder became convinced they were lovers. Khnumhotep occupies the place that denotes a wife in many of the scenes. You may have heard of this couple from the recent HBO series Gentleman Jackbut the story of Anne Lister and Ann Walker was a defining moment for lesbians and marriage equality in Britain since they exchanged vows in Lister was a wealthy English landowner famous for her world travels, her openly queer lifestyle earning her the title of "the first modern lesbian," and her extensive diaries chronicling her romantic and sexual relationships.

Lister met young heiress Ann Walker on various occasions in the s, and by they had fallen in love. They took communion together on Easter Sunday at Holy Trinity Church in Goodramgate, York, now marked with an official blue plaque as the site of the first lesbian wedding to be held in Britain, though the marriage was not legally recognized at the time. The couple lived together in Lister's estate Shibden Hall until her death in Lesbian icon and pioneering writer Gertrude Stein found true love in Toklas, with whom she shared a life for nearly 40 years.

They met in Paris, sharing creative ideas in a salon that welcomed Picasso, Matisse, and Ernest Hemingway. Although it was the s, the couple celebrated their love in public. But some secrets of their partnership remained private until the s when Yale University opened a locked cabinet when held hundreds of love letters between the two. They decided to attend medical school together in and forever stay by each other's side. Though they were both active in fighting for women's right to vote, their ambitions to medicine separated them until they were both invited to the brand-new pediatrics department at Yale.

Both pioneers in their own right, they changed the role of women in children's medicine forever. During the Great Depression, Eliot was an architect of the New Deal's programs regarding maternal and child health, and later she was named chief of the Children's Bureau, a federal health agency, by President Truman. Dunham focused on caring for premature babies and newborns, establishing the national standards for how hospitals care for babies.

She became one of the first female professors at Yale's School of Medicine, while her partner was the first female member of the American Pediatric Society and the first woman to become president of the American Public Health Association. She was the first woman to receive the honor. Eliot was the second. Though known for painting chapels, Michelangelo was far from a church ideal in his romantic life.

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The two met in Tommaso dei Cavalieri, who was 23 years old, was known as exceptionally handsome, fitting the year-old Michaelangelo's ideal of masculine beauty. Michaelangelo dedicated a series of drawings and dozens of love poems to the young man, calling dei Cavalieri the "light of our century, paragon of all the world.

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Letters exchanged between the artist and the Italian nobleman show that they carried on a mutual romance. De Cavalieri married inbut the two remained close until Michelangelo's death in If you've seen The Danish Girl, you know about the romance between these two earlyth-century artists — but the movie omits that both Elbe and Gottlieb identified as LGBT. Elbe specialized in painted landscapes while Gottlieb illustrated books and fashion magazines.

After filling in for Gottlieb's absentee model and putting on stockings and heels, it became clear that Elbe identified as a woman. Gottlieb saw herself as a lesbian and even created famous lesbian erotica paintings. The couple moved to Paris to live openly. InElbe's body dysmorphia drove her to seek out gender-confirmation surgery in Germany. The procedure was highly experimental at the time — Lili is one of the first identifiable subjects — and took four operations over two years.

As Elbe's procedure gained press, Danish courts invalidated her marriage to Gottlieb, who remarried and moved to Italy. Having undergone several operations before the age of antibiotics, Elbe died of an infection in The two met in the summer of Although Wilde was married and had two sons, he began a doomed affair with Douglas, who was 19 years his junior. Their love story was often one of pain; Douglas was known to be spoiled and reckless. The two often fought and broke up. Once, after Wilde nursed his young lover through influenza only to contract the disease himself, Douglas moved to the Grand Hotel and sent Wilde the bill on his 40th birthday.

When Douglas's father grew suspicious about their relationship, he launched a campaign against Wilde that eventually led to his arrest on grounds of gross indecency code for being gay and was sentenced to two years in prison. Once Wilde was released, the two tried to rekindle their love, only to be forced apart by their families, who threatened to withhold funds. Romantic relationships between older and younger men were common in ancient Rome, but the story of Emperor Hadrian and his young confidant Antinous stands out.

Hadrian, who ruled the Roman Empire from AD to AD, had a special relationship with Antinous and traveled with him on a tour of the Empire, with Antinous part of the emperor's personal retinue. When Antinous died in AD, drowning under unexplained circumstances, Hadrian was so heartbroken that he remained in mourning for years, filling his palace with statues that resembled his lost lover, naming stars and flowers after him, and holding festivals and athletic games in his honor.

Antinous was eventually deified and worshiped as a god by a cult that spread throughout the Empire until the end of the fourth century. When people say there's yet to be a lesbian auteur in cinema, they are forgetting Dorothy Arzner. Arzner, the only successful female director during Hollywood's golden age, was romantically linked to stars including Alla Nazimova and Billie Burke. But everything shifted when Arzner met Marion Morgan, a vaudeville dancer and choreographer, on the set of Fashions for Women. An entrepreneur herself, Morgan led her own performance troupe.

The two began a romance and collaborated on films for decades. Meanwhile, Arzner helped launch the careers of Katharine Hepburn and Lucille Ball and became the first woman to the Directors Guild of America and direct a film with sound.

Successful businesswomen, Arzner and Morgan commissioned architect W. Tanner to build them a Hollywood Hills estate, where they lived for 40 years. Engaging in nearly 40 years of a Married adults friends very masc for similar romance, British tenor Peter Pears and composer Benjamin Britten brought heat to the opera house. InBritten asked a friend, publisher Donald Mitchell, to "tell the truth about Peter and me" in the form of releasing love letters exchanged between the pair, from when they first met in up to that year. The two were also in love with each other's artistry.

The feeling was decidedly mutual.

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The two traveled the world as partners in life and music, performing in concert halls and for Holocaust survivors. Pears died of a heart attack 10 years later. A year later, they were madly in love. After the success of Streetcar, the two traveled the world in the late s and s, summering in Europe as Williams sought inspiration in Rome, Barcelona, and London. Merlo became Williams's personal secretary, creating order in his life and helping him deal with his constant struggle with depression.

The two split after 14 years of harmony, unable to work through infidelity and drug abuse on both sides. Shortly after their breakup, Merlo was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. Suddenly none of the wounds of the past mattered; Williams returned to nurse his lover until cancer took his life. Consumed by the loss of his true love, the Tony winner became plagued by theatrical failure, drug abuse, and depression.

Through his later life he was in and out of treatment facilities, unable to live up to his creative glory. These lifelong companions met at Oberlin College and became agents of the American Anti-Slavery Society as soon as they graduated. The couple traveled on the abolitionist lecture circuit alongside Sojourner Truth fighting for black people to be freed. After the Civil War and emancipation, the two split to pursue their calling for justice. Holley gave talks in the North raising money to educate freed slaves, while Putnam went to Virginia to teach them.

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She ended up founding the Holley School, named after her partner. Holley ed Putnam in Lottsburg, Va. Dedicated to encouraging and enabling black men to vote when they as women still could not, they died having left the school to an all-black board of trustees who kept it open for decades. Throughout the late 19th century, Irish novelist Edith Somerville wrote in collaboration with "Martin Ross," who in reality was her second cousin, Violet Martin.

Publishing 14 stories and novels, the two achieved success under the pseudonym "Somerville and Ross. While the exact nature of their relationship is a subject of debate, they lived together like a married couple in Drishane, County Cork, and later in her life Edith became a close companion of lesbian composer Ethel Smyth. Mercedes de Acostaa successful poet, playwright, Married adults friends very masc for similar screenwriter, was an out and proud lesbian who bragged that she could have any woman she wanted.

After meeting Hollywood icon Greta Garbo inshe knew exactly what woman that was. The two began a relationship shortly after their introduction, but it was never smooth sailing. At times, Garbo opened her arms and heart to de Acosta, only to pull away. They drew inspiration from each other, with de Acosta penning a screenplay for Garbo to portray Joan of Arc, but it was never filmed. But their romance was never dead even when it was over; Garbo wrote de Acosta letters, cards, and telegrams. I only hope Convinced de Acosta was bad luck and upset that she was open about her queer relationships in memoirs, Garbo decided to erase their romance from her life completely.

When de Acosta was dying, a friend asked Garbo to write her a goodbye, but out of pain and fear, Garbo refused. While some scholars try to deny that the nature-loving poet was queer, most agree that Walt Whitman had a romantic bond with Peter Doylea streetcar conductor he met in According to Doyle, the men met at a hotel after his shift and were inseparable for years.

He did not get out at the end of the trip — in fact went all the way back with me," Doyle said in It's believed that Whitman disguised Doyle's initials in his notebooks by using the code " Though we don't know for sure if the most consequential U. They met inwhen Franklin D. Roosevelt was running for governor of New York. He was elected president four years later, and by the time he was sworn in as commander in chief, the first lady was already wearing a sapphire ring bestowed on her by "Hick," as she affectionally called Hickok.

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The journalist ed the Roosevelts every Sunday night for dinner, went on trips with Eleanor to the opera, and was the first to interview her as she took on the White House. When apart, the two professed their love via telephone and letter; Roosevelt even kept a picture of Hickock in her study.

All Rights Reserved. Not Vita. Their affair ended in the late s on respectful terms, and they remained close friends. Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum Their love certainly stood the test of time — ancient times, to be exact. Anne Lister and Ann Walker You may have heard of this couple from the recent HBO series Gentleman Jackbut the story of Anne Lister and Ann Walker was a defining moment for lesbians and marriage equality in Britain since they exchanged vows in Gertrude Stein and Alice B.

Toklas Lesbian icon and pioneering writer Gertrude Stein found true love in Toklas, with whom she shared a life for nearly 40 years. Michelangelo and Tommaso dei Cavalieri Though known for painting chapels, Michelangelo was far from a church ideal in his romantic life.

Gottlieb rose to success as a painter using Lili dressed as a femme fatale as her muse. Emperor Hadrian and Antinous Romantic relationships between older and younger men were common in ancient Rome, but the story of Emperor Hadrian and his young confidant Antinous stands out. Dorothy Arzner and Marion Morgan When people say there's yet to be a lesbian auteur in cinema, they are forgetting Dorothy Arzner.

Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears Engaging in nearly 40 years of a passionate romance, British tenor Peter Pears and composer Benjamin Britten brought heat to the opera house. Greta Garbo and Mercedes de Acosta Mercedes de Acostaa successful poet, playwright, and screenwriter, was an out and proud lesbian who bragged that she could have any woman she wanted. Walt Whitman and Peter Doyle While some scholars try to deny that the nature-loving poet was queer, most agree that Walt Whitman had a romantic bond with Peter Doylea streetcar conductor he met in

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