Vintage Married Lesbians Week: Peaches Stevens & Edna Knowles

peachesandedna

We are starting off our vintage married lesbians - okay, fine, vintage lesbians who were married/as good as married/should have totally been married - week with two  of my favorites: the pretty spectacular Peaches Stevens and Edna Knowles, whose 1970 marriage at Liz's Mark III Lounge gay bar on the south side of Chicago was written up in Jet magazine! The piece describes their celebration, which included happy family and friends on hand to support them, as well as a 'type of marriage license' which was, of course, unofficial.

They're our first featured couple for several reasons. First, the expression on Peaches's face! So. Much. Joy. Second, queer women of color have been integral to the fight for equality, and they do not, unfortunately, receive the recognition they deserve in mass media coverage. Third, since I'm writing as a girl getting married in the near-ish future: I really, really love Edna's dress. And would like a close-up like yesterday. Is that a watteau train? Want.

Most importantly, we chose Peaches and Edna because they were two women who formalized their relationship well before the Dutch in 2001, or the state of Massachusetts in 2004. Despite the lack of legal recognition - after all, it's 45 years later, and we're still waiting on that - Peaches and Edna were married before family and friends who affirmed that commitment. Their wedding was written up in Jet, photo and all. 

While the editorial team at Jet stopped shy of full-on celebrating, as other articles have pointed out - although to my editor's eye, the quotes around 'bridegroom' is actually more of a slight than those around 'married,' since the article explains that their marriage is not legally recognized and the word bride, referencing Edna, has no quotes - they still ran a photo and piece about two women getting married. In 1970! And said that they were happy! (For perspective, newspapers running same-sex engagement or marriage announcements is still making the news.)

So, here's one example of a society - a small one, to be sure - prior to the Netherlands in 2001 who not only recognized a same-sex marriage, but celebrated it. There's even a magazine that printed it. And most importantly, here are two beautiful women on their wedding day, making a commitment to each other out of love. Isn't that what all marriages are about?