chapter  7
“Nothing is forever”: Serial Monogamy in the Lesbian Community of the 1940s and 1950s
Pages 47

Like Pin, all narrators had a series of relationships during the 1940s and 1950s, and afterward. To our knowledge, no historical research exists on the pattern of lesbian relationships that predominated not only in Buffalo but also in most other public lesbian communities of the twentieth century.1 We think this absence is due in part to the fact that popular opinion assumes such relationships to be failed attempts at permanent coupling and therefore considers them insignificant, unworthy of serious attention. Deeply embedded in twentieth-century culture is the idea that lifelong marriage is the highest form of intimate relationship, and that inability to achieve it reflects immaturity and indicates failure. This idea is hegemonic, in that it is hard to discuss, or even imagine, other kinds of relationships

as legitimate. Research on emotional bonding is deeply affected by this context.2 We know this from first-hand experience because, to our surprise, we found ourselves beginning with negative judgments about the impermanence of lesbian relationships, which impoverished our ability to conceptualize an alternative framework.