Charity and Sylvia

Charity and Sylvia are two women who were in a same-sex marriage for 44 years. The story goes into details about their joined union and how they survived as a married same-sex couple in the early nineteenth century. The main reason why Charity and Sylvia were able to maintain their relationship was by keeping the typical “husband” and “wife” set up. Charity took on more of the husband role; becoming the “man” of the household. Her name came first on documents and records and she took charge of their business and money. Sylvia took on more of the wife role: cooking, cleaning, and other household duties. Sylvia even wanted to take Charity’s last name. Although, both women remained single women on paper to the law. One of the main takeaways I got from this book was that society is more likely to accept a same-sex couple if they adopt the stereotypical masculine and feminine characteristics. I also took away that there were probably a lot of these types of relationships happening even in the early nineteenth century. There have been same-sex marriages or unions occurring for a long time, this is not a new event. Charity and Sylvia kept their relationship a secret (like many others during this time). The women gave lots to their community to keep their relationship private. By having an “open closet” with their community, they were able to help one another to strengthen their community. It was kind of like a you help me out, I’ll help you out situation. They remained being publically minded, which helped them keep their relationship.

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