The assumption of many straight friends of mine is that lesbians and gays do not have long-term relationships.
When pressed, they often paint stereotypical images of gay men in bath houses, women in prison, or, when they have run out
of things to say, they continue with "these relationships are destined to fail." Really?
I have been fortunate enough to know women who have been in monogamous relationships for 5, 10, 15, 20, 30
and 40+ years. I knew one couple who had been together through their marriages to men, helped each other raise their
children, attended the funeral of one husband, and when I left Chicago in 1990, were still together. They referred to
each other as "special friends."
On the topic of special friends, like Alice Dunbar-Nelson, there are many bisexual women who have maintained equally committed and lengthy relationships. In my
early 20s, many, many, moons ago, I attended several parties thrown by women for women who were married or, for whatever reasons,
could not be OUT and were living public lives as wives, mothers, and executives. I had the pleasure of meeting
a couple at one of these parties who had been together for a little over five years. Their husbands (how
they met) had parted ways long ago when they changed jobs, but these two women maintained their "special friendship" and cared
very much for each other. Two beautiful women who loved kissing each other.
For those of you at the six-month, one-year, of four-year marker in your relationship, take heart. FemmeNoir
presents Famous Lesbian Lovers in History. The links below will take you to photos and some very brief bios of these
- Mary Renault and Julie Mullard- Together 50+ years
- Jane Rule and Helen Sonthoff- Together 42 years
- Natalie Barney and Romaine Brooks- 50 years
- Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas- Together 40 years (buried together in Pere Lachaise Cemetary in France)
- Mary Wooley and Jeannette Marks- Together 52 years
- Tiny Davis and Ruby Lucas (jazz musicians)- 42 years and counting...
- Lillian Foster and Mabel Hampton- 41 years
- Grace Hutchins (1885-1969)and Anna Rochester (1880-1966)-
More than 45 years
- Alice James and Katharine Loring- (1880-1892) 12 years
- Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok- 30 years
- Ruth Ellis and Cecine "Babe" Franklin- 30 years
- Gaye Adegbablola and Suzanne Moe- 9 years
- Rachel Carson and Dorothy Freeman- friends for 12 years
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Other Articles of Interest
Lesbian Couples and Friends: Is There Enough Love to Go Around?
by Kali Munro, M.Ed., Psychotherapist
(originally published in Siren, Aug/Sept 1999)
Why is it that lesbians can neglect or forget their friends when they get into a relationship? Whether it's
the quality and intensity of our friendships that change, or the fact that we no longer make new friends, or that we rarely
meet with friends independent of our partners, it always seems to happen once we're involved with someone.
after being in a relationship, our needs and interests change. Some lesbians want to connect with other couples or develop
mutual friends. Some feel satisfied that their emotional needs are met by their partners. Others feel that their relationships
demand a lot from them emotionally, leaving them less to offer to friends. While all of these are reasons to make some shifts,
they don't compensate for the loss of a trusted friend. Or the independence and closeness that can be gained by hanging out
with your own friends.