Queer Suffrage

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

Finalist for the Publishing Triangle Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction, 2023

Honorable Mention, Richardson Keller-Sierra Prize, Western Association of Women Historians, 2023

“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


June 12, 2023

Boston Public Library

March 26, 2023

History Park, San Jose

March 7, 2023

Santa Clara County Library

January 17, 2023

Women’s Museum of California

August 30, 2022

National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian

June 7, 2022

California Historical Society

June 5, 2022

National Women’s History Museum

March 17, 2022

Mosaic America

February 19, 2022

History San Jose

June 17, 2021

April 28, 2021


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.


Morning Edition. National Public Radio. WBUR Boston. June 2023.

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