I read the little bio of Vida Dutton Scudder this morning from the Episcopal Women's History Project which includes this eyebrow-raiser:
Throughout her life Scudder’s primary relationships and support network were women; her closest companion was Florence Converse, who shared in her religious faith and political ideals.
Wikipedia up and says, "She was one of the most prominent lesbian authors of her time." Thank you for not being coy. Though I'm also annoyed at the descriptor. Does she have to be a prominent lesbian author? Can she not be a prominent author?
Why is Florence Converse even mentioned at all? A spouse, partner, or any sort of relationship status is not mentioned for Wilfred Grenfell who lived during almost the exact same period, though since he had two sons and a daughter, you might think there was someone else in his life.
I suppose they are trying to bring out the understanding that Vida D S was one of Those People we're so concerned about having in the church; that gays and lesbians have been here all along. But this message was given so ham-handedly, so half-heartedly, by implication rather than straightforward expression. Why not just say, either in Wikipedia or from the Episcopal Women's History Project, that VDS had a lifelong partnership with Florence Converse, a writer for the Atlantic Monthly, and leave it at that. Look, see? Nothing implied, no dancing around, no unnatural attention, no hemming and hawing. Just the facts.
I guess we're trying, but I hope we can do better than this.