A good love letter can speak across centuries and reassure us that the agony and the ecstasy one might feel in the 21st century have been shared by lovers long gone. This is all the truer of LGBTQ+ love letters: love affairs and relationships that, until very recently, had to survive within sealed envelopes and behind closed doors.
In The Love That Dares, queer love speaks its name through the words of lovers from years gone by. Alongside the more famous names coexist beautifully written letters by lesser-known lovers, giving us an insight into queer love outside of the spotlight of fame or fortune. Compiled by Bishopsgate archivists Rachel Smith and Barbara Vesey, these letters give us a glimpse into the passion and courage it took to continue a gay relationship in times when it was at best improper, and at worst illegal.
Enlightening introductions to each set of letters give readers an idea of the historical context in which they were written.
My thoughts: this is a really lovely collection of letters from queer writers, artists, musicians and others from across history. From famously gay people to ones you might not have known about, from early philosopher Marcus Aurelius, via Oscar Wilde and Vita Sackville-West to modern voices. There’s also a selection from Dear Sappho, published originally in 1996.
Explanatory notes give context to the writers and their letters, a brief glimpse into the lives and loves of people often living under threat of censure and criminality.
I found this incredibly moving, the ways people expressed their love and desire, their hopes and fears in words to friends and lovers, sometimes simple banal everyday news to passionate expressions.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.