A Woker 18th Century: Colonial Williamsburg to Add LGBTQ History

Gabriel Hays | August 12, 2021
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Word is Williamsburg, the colonial-era town in Virginia famous for being a living historical museum, is now retooling its historical reenactment program to account for LGBTQ history. Because even the most patriarchal, colonial, white supremacist societies from the 18th century need a Queer Eye makeover.

What fun!

The Blaze reported on August 11 that the historical society that puts on the 18th century re-enactment in the old town “spent the last two years poring through archives to uncover the nation's so-called ‘queer history’ in order to produce programming that tells the ‘complete’ story of the time period.” Apparently, they found a gay history of Colonial Williamsburg.

Oh, thank goodness. Well, that should keep the left from demanding all the re-enactors lose their livelihoods from participating in such a vestige of white supremacist history.

According to the outlet, it all started when “Aubrey Moog-Ayers, an apprentice weaver at the museum who identifies as queer, was approached by a gay male couple asking what life was like for queer individuals in colonial America.” At the time, she didn’t know. That question prompted Moog-Ayers to find out. She spoke to other staff members about uncovering Williamsburg’s secret queer history and thus they founded the “Colonial Williamsburg Gender and Sexual Diversity Research Committee.”

Started in 2019, the new, highly relevant committee went straight to work on finding the numerous gay people supposedly inhabiting the town back in the day. One of the researchers, Ren Tolson, admitted that finding examples of queer people in the colony at that time was “difficult.” What did these people expect? Stumbling upon the ruins of a 400-year old pride parade?

Related: U.S. Medical Group Blocks Evidence That Kids SHOULD NOT Undergo Gender Reassignment 

Still, Tolson and company said their search was ultimately rewarding. They found at least one lesbian couple that wanted to get married but couldn’t, because, you know, back then, way before the Supreme Court's 2015 decision found a right to gay marriage, society took seriously that marriage was between a man and a woman. 

The outlet reported that unearthed documents allegedly tell “the story of an affluent landowning Virginian woman who was denied a marriage license to another woman since local law only issued marriage licenses to male and female couples.” But, in this lighthearted historical romance, one of the women dressed as a man and duped the local magistrate to grant the lesbians a marriage license. Wow, even back then, LGBTQ love found a way.

Despite the research committee’s insistence that the historical record of colonial history is full of queer people this quaint story of the lesbian couple is really the only LGBTQ narrative that will become part of the Colonial Williamsburg reenactment. The researchers just chalk that up to the fact that “a lot of other groups are overrepresented in the historic record.” 

Yeah, count that as another cruel win for historical racism and heteronormativity. We are so glad that the 1700s could get with the times.

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