Silent: 1600-1865


It is not radical to say this period, stretching over two and a half centuries, was not inclusive to queer identities. However, what is unique about the authors in this section, is the specific kind of oppression they face, resulting in the utter silencing, even on a personal level, of their identities. In later sections, authors are often subject to prejudice or partial erasure of identity, however, these three authors are examples of how queer people in this time were too uncomfortable to even personally acknowledge their non-normative identities.

Only upon reading the intimate documents of Emily Dickinson and Michael Wigglesworth can we find their identities. Only upon understanding the complex relationship of sexuality and gender in their time, can we understand sexual abstinence as being a part of the “genderless” perception of a non-binary identity in Publick Universal Friend’s time. These narratives are complex and difficult to understand because their authors had only one choice: to be silent.


Michael Wigglesworth

Publick Universal Friend

Emily Dickinson