This text introduces Mary Hammon and Sara Norman, who were found guilty in 17th-century Massachusetts of "lewd behavior each with the other upon a bed". The reader also meets Ozaw-wen-dib, a male Chippewa who, in the 1820s, lived as a woman and had many husbands. We find Addie Brown, a freeborn black domestic servant, assuring African-American schoolteacher Rebecca Primus that "no kisses is like youres" in the 1860s. The reader also becomes acquainted with ACT-UP, Queer Nation and the "tasty and dramatic" Lesbian Avengers. The book, as these examples suggest, is the tale of men desiring men and women loving women through nearly four centuries of American history. Leila Rupp combines an array of scholarship on supposedly discrete episodes in American history into a story of same-sex desire across the country and the centuries. She shows what it means to say that sexuality has a history by pointing to experiences of love and desire that were understood in radically different ways across time, and often in radically different ways by different groups at the same time.
She translates the concepts that are central to cutting-edge theories of sexuality into a narrative that explains these concepts in practice.