Colonial Williamsburg to Showcase Gay and Transgender Reenactments

Colonial Williamsburg to Showcase Gay and Transgender Reenactments colonial street scene A street in Colonial Williamsburg (Dreamstime)

By Nick Koutsobinas | Monday, 30 August 2021 05:05 PM

Colonial Williamsburg will be bringing a showcase of gay and transgender historical reenactments to life this fall.

At the start of October, a new musical called Ladies of Llangollen will be on display. The musical will be based on the diaries and writings of two women who fled Ireland and eloped in Wales during the 18th century.

In 2019, the Colonial Williamsburg foundation created a Gender and Sexuality Diversity Committee to research gay and transgender issues during the Colonial era. According to the committee's findings, they uncovered multiple instances of transgender and gay issues.

According to the Washington Examiner, the question the committee posed to themselves during their research was: "What is the Western population's view on sexuality and gender and how did they determine who was a man and who was a woman?"

Researcher Ron Tolson decidedly gave multiple accounts of such instances.

One such account exists of a woman who sought marriage with another woman. After trying to garner a marriage license, she was turned down and told marriage is between a man and a woman. She later returned adorning the garb of a man and was subsequently approved.

"It's not that the information isn't there," Tolson says, "it's that it hasn't been properly researched and a lot of other groups are overrepresented in the historic record. We just assumed that people had similar ideas as current day and moved on but that's not entirely the case."

But the research still has its challenges. Researchers, reportedly, had to decode the language and learn whole new sets of terminology to aid in their research. Additionally, many fires of courthouses during the 17th and 18th centuries also have hindered their progress.

However, the research is still ongoing, and Williamsburg plans to introduce more gay and transgender programs to their agenda.