For decades, the term ""Boston marriage"" was used to describe single women who lived together and shared their lives. The presumption was that these partnerships were non-sexual. In recent years, however, the opposite presumption has prevailed, causing some women involved in Boston marriages to hide the asexual nature of their relationship from the lesbian community. Convinced that Boston marriages are both legitimate and important, Esther D. Rothblum and Kathleen A. Brehony argue that in a society that defines intimacy by the occurrence of sexual activity, we have no word for - and therefore no understanding of - the intensely romantic but asexual relationships that some lesbians form. By bringing these relationships ""out of the closet"" and discussing them openly, the editors and other contributors to this volume challenge our views about lesbianism, and address larger questions concerning the construction of sexuality and sexual identity. How, for example, do we define lesbianism? What constitutes a romantic involvement? If a couple does not engage in sex, are they still considered lovers? The study includes ten personal accounts by women involved in Boston marriages as well as theoretical essays by Lillian Faderman, Marnie Hall, JoAnn Loulan, Suzanna Rose, Debra Zand, Marie Cini, and Laura Brown.
Esther D. Rothblum is professor of psychology at the University of Vermont. She is editor with E. Cole of Loving Boldly: Issues Facing Lesbians and Closing the Cycle of Sexual Knowledge. Kathleen A. Brehony is a psychotherapist in private practice in Virginia.