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Queer Person in History: Anne Lister

Anne Lister (1791 – 1840) is referred to by many as the first modern lesbian. Her life and relationships were portrayed in the HBO show Gentleman’s Jack, the title being a nickname given to Lister by residents of her town to scorn how she dressed and behaved. Lister refused to conform to gender stereotypes, instead preferring to wear masculine clothing, traveling alone and forming relationships with women – all of which were behaviors frowned upon for women. As you can tell, Lister was not someone who could be told how to behave and was unapologetically open about her sexuality. After numerous relationships with women, all of which Lister wrote about in her diaries, she settled with Ann Walker. The pair are known to have had the first lesbian marriage in Britain. Although the priest did not bless them, the couple secretly shared vows, exchanged rings and took communion.

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