Queer Suffragists

Public Faces, Secret Lives: A Queer History of the Suffrage Movement

In this book, Wendy Rouse explores explores the important role of queerness and queer suffragists in the fight for the vote. The traditional narrative of women’s suffrage history sanitized the lives of queer suffragists contributing to the historical erasure of the queer history of the movement. Yet, it was often their very queerness that helped propel the movement forward. This book highlights the personal and professional alliances that queer suffragists built and the innovative strategies they developed to protect and preserve their most intimate relationships— relationships that were ultimately crucial to the success of the women’s suffrage movement.

Available now from NYU Press

Praise for the Book

“A stunning achievement, Public Faces, Secret Lives provides a long overdue history of queer suffragists and their integral role in the movement.” ~Emily Skidmore, author of True Sex: The Lives of Trans Men at the Turn of the Twentieth Century

“Not only a powerful revision of the largely heteronormative framings of the suffrage movement, Public Faces, Secret Lives is also testament to the queer community’s power to reimagine and revolutionize social movements today.” ~Leila J. Rupp, author of the 2015 Lambda Literary Award winner, Understanding and Teaching U.S. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History

“Asking new questions of old stories – that is what Wendy Rouse has superbly done by turning a queer eye on the women’s suffrage movement. Hiding in plain sight, or sometimes hidden by historical erasure, queer women were central figures in the movement, providing models of activism and non-heteronormative behavior for those who follow in their footsteps.” ~Susan Ware, author of Why They Marched: Untold Stories of the Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote


August 30, 2022

National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian

Queering Women’s Suffrage in the United States

June 7, 2022

California Historical Society

“Public Faces, Secret Lives: A Queer History of the Women’s Suffrage Movement in California,” a virtual book talk.

June 5, 2022

National Women’s History Museum

“Sundays @Home: In Conversation with Wendy L. Rouse,” a virtual book talk

June 1, 2022

Massachusetts Historical Society

“Public Faces, Secret Lives: A Queer History of the Women’s Suffrage Movement,” a virtual book talk.

March 17, 2022

Mosaic America

“Sheroes in Place,” a virtual conversation on Women’s History Month

February 25, 2022

GLBT Historical Society

Uncovering the Queer History of the Women’s Suffrage Movement,” a virtual book talk.

February 19, 2022

History San Jose

Public Faces, Secret Lives, a book talk at History Park.

April 28, 2021

UC Davis History Project

“Teaching the Queer History of the Suffrage Movement,” a virtual workshop for history educators to teaching LGBTQ history.

March 10, 2021

Connecticut Historical Society Museum & Library

“The Queer History of the Suffrage Movement,” a virtual talk on gender and sexuality in the women’s suffrage movement.

March 4, 2021

University of Rhode Island Legacy of Suffrage

“The Queer History of the Suffrage Movement,” a virtual lecture for the Long Rhode to the Vote, Suffrage Centennial Lecture Series.

January 19, 2021

California Historical Society Sex and Suffrage

A virtual program on “Sex and Suffrage” with guest presenters Sherry L. Smith, Kimberly A. Hamlin, and Wendy Rouse.

August 21, 2020

Arizona Women Lawyer’s Association

“100 Years in the Making.” From the 19th Amendment Women’s Right to Vote to the 28th Amendment for Equal Rights.” Webinar.

April 22, 2020

National Women’s History Alliance

“The Queer History of the Women’s Suffrage Movement.” National Women’s History Alliance. Webinar.

March 19, 2020

UC Davis Library and Friends of Yolo County Archives

“Queering the Suffrage Movement.” Battle for the Ballot: A Speaker Series to Celebrate 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage.


Blog Posts

“The Very Queer History of the Women’s Suffrage Movement.” Women’s Vote Centennial 2020. National Park Service.

The Very Queer History of the Women’s Suffrage Movement. Ms. Magazine. July 22, 2020.

Journal Articles

“‘Hurrah for Woman Suffrage!’ Young Suffragists and the Campaign for the Vote. Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth 13, no. 3 (Winter 2021), 133-158.

“Gender, Sexuality and Love Between Women in California’s Suffrage Campaign.” California History 97, no. 4 (Fall 2020), 144-150.


Podcast Interview. New Books in Political Science. History News Network. August 2022.

Web Interview. Women’s Suffrage.19th News. August, 2022.

Web Interview. Sarah Durn. Mary Edwards Walker and the Queer Suffragists Who Changed History. Atlas Obscura. July 2022.

Podcast. Unsung History. The Queer History of the Suffrage Movement. June 6, 2022.

Podcast. Herstory on the Rocks. Public Faces, Secret Lives. April 12, 2022.

Podcast. Armchair Historians. Public Faces, Secret Lives. March 15, 2022.

Documentary Video. Discovering New York Suffrage Stories: Queer Suffragists. Tilke Hill. Buffalo & Toronto Public Media, PBS & NPR, February 8, 2021.

Television Interview. Queering the History of the Suffrage Movement. CTV News Canada. September 1, 2020. 

Newspaper Interview. Maya Salam. How Queer Women Powered the Suffrage MovementNew York Times. August 19, 2020.

Web Interview. Sarah D. Collins. The Queer Suffragists Who Fought for Women’s Right to VoteThem. August 14, 2020. 


%d bloggers like this: