Friday, February 8, 2013

Fanny & Stella: Drag Sensations in the 1800's

A few days ago, the UK approved same-sex marriage in a vote, although must still go through several stages before it becomes legal. Coincidentally, Fanny and Stella was released a few days ago, a book chronicling the fierce and fabulous Ernest Boulton and Frederick Park and the pandemonium they created in Victorian England in the 1800's.

The two men, known as Fanny and Stella, were Victorian transvestites. After meeting as young men, their bond strengthened as they expressed themselves through drag. They would dress up for a multitude of photos and would often go out together to attend social events. It's 2013, and heads still turn when men dress as women so you can imagine what something like this would have caused in the 1870's.

Work it gurlfriendz. Fanny and Stella, then in their early 20's, refused to sashay away and eventually were arrested in Strand Theatre in London for suspicion of prostitution. Having discovered that they were not biological women, the police launched a campaign to persecute them. Authorities raided their secret dressing rooms on Wakefield Street and confiscated their entire drag wardrobe. 

They were put on trial in Westminster Hall in 1871, charged with "the abominable crime of buggery." Had they been found guilty, they could have been sentenced to servitude, but the prosecution was unable to prove that either had committed a "homosexual offense." Secondly, men wearing women's clothing was not a crime, so Fanny and Stella were acquitted. 

Ladies, condragulations. Chanté, you stay.


  1. This is great, I am so happy I stumbled upon your blog. It looks like there are so many interesting things to learn about, can't wait to dive in!

  2. Nice of you to say, thanks for checking it out.