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Frederick William Park and Thomas Ernest Boulon, aka Fanny and Stella.

Officially, there were no homosexual men in Victorian England.

But that's just because the word "homosexual" didn't enter the language until the mid-to-late 1890s. ("Transsexual" and "transgender" would catch on even later.)

There were, however, men who engaged in sexual and/or romantic relationships with each other. They just didn't identify with the same words we use today; in fact, many of them used a special cant-like, crypto-language called Polari in order to communicate without exposing themselves in public.

While the rest of society was struggling to define and understand them, they went about with their usual business, living their lives regardless of words.

Consider the case of Frederick William Park and Thomas Ernest Boulton — also known as Fanny and Stella, respectively.

The duo met while working as actors around London, where there was a longstanding tradition in the theater of men cross-dressing to perform as women. Fanny and Stella appeared onstage as sisters, but Park and Boulton carried these identities offstage as well, cavorting at parties and in public.

photography, transgender, victorian age

Fredrick and Thomas pose in an embrace as Fanny and Stella.

Photo via Frederick Spalding/Wikimedia Commons.

Boulton, whose affinity for women's clothing and dreams of femme stardom stretched back to childhood, had a live-in relationship with Lord Arthur Clinton, a naval officer and the son of the 5th duke of Newcastle. Park, on the other hand, was the son of a judge. While it's not clear whether he was involved sexually with either Boulton or Clinton, he was known to have a written correspondence with Clinton in character as Fanny.

relationships, victorian, transgender, laws

Clinton, Boulton, and Park pose for a photograph.

Clinton, Boulton, and Park. Photo via Frederick Spalding/Wikimedia Commons.

Things started to get messy when Fanny and Stella were arrested outside of London's Royal Strand Theatre on April 28, 1870.

Their alleged crime? "Conspiring and inciting persons to commit an unnatural offense" with the other men they were accompanying. Lord Clinton was also indicted in the scandal but tragically died before it went to trial, possibly by suicide.

When the case reached the court, the prosecution faced a difficult challenge. There was nothing technically illegal about a man wearing a dress in public, and it was impossible to prove someone guilty of "being gay or transgender" when the words didn't yet exist. Thus, the only potentially punishable offense for which Fanny and Stella could be tried was sodomy.

Fanny and Stella stood before a judge in their best evening gowns while doctors presented physical evidence of sodomy. Even the public at the time thought the spectacle was ridiculous, and the two were ultimately acquitted by a jury.

freedom, human rights, transgender, history

A drawing depicting both Fredrick and Thomas being arrested in 1870.

Image via The Illustrated Police News/Wikimedia Commons.

In 1880, Victorian values were once again scandalized by the "disgraceful proceedings" of a so-called "drag ball" in Manchester.

The private event on Sept. 24, 1880, at the city's Temperance Hall was organized by a group calling themselves the Pawnbrokers' Assistants' Association. They took numerous precautions to protect the guests' identities, including a bouncer at the door dressed as a nun, black paper on the windows, and a blind accordion player to provide the party's music with plausible deniability.

Somehow, Detective Jerome Caminada, who's believed to be the inspiration for Sherlock Holmes, caught wind of the occasion. The sneaky sleuth reportedly observed "men dressed in the most fantastic fashion, and eight of them in the garb of women."

The police waited until the early hours of the morning to raid the party and ended up arresting nearly 50 people for the crime of "having solicited and incited each other to commit an unnameable offense" — again, because there was nothing explicitly illegal about "being queer and dancing the can-can."

In the end, most of the defendants were forced to pay a bond in a promise to the court for 12 months of "good behavior."

legal, laws, transgender rights, police news

A cartoon published in the Police News talking about the incident.

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Five years later, the U.K. passed the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885, which made "gross indecency" punishable by prison time.

Member of Parliament Henry Labouchère realized that if they were ever going to bring charges against queer men, trying to legally prove they engaged in sodomy wasn't the answer.

Labouchère came up with the vaguely defined term gross indecency, which basically meant any kind of physical sexual contact between two people with penises that the court deemed "gross." (There was no comparable law against queer women.) The new law was tacked onto an amendment about the age of consent.

Perhaps the most famous charge of gross indecency was against Oscar Wilde, who served two years hard labor in Reading prison, from which he never quite recovered. The British codebreaker and computer science progenitor Alan Turing was also charged with gross indecency in 1952. As punishment, he was chemically castrated; 50 years later, the British government acknowledged the action was grossly inhumane.

statues, memoriam, history, reformation, transgender rights

Statues made in honor of mathematician Alan touring and writer Oscar Wilde respectively.

Photos via Lmno/Wikimedia Commons and Sandro Schachner/Wikimedia Commons.

(Left) The Alan Turing memorial in Sackville Park, Manchester, and the Oscar Wilde memorial in Merrion Square, Dublin.

Sex between two consenting British males was finally decriminalized in 1967 — but anti-gay laws stayed on the books in Scotland and Northern Ireland until the 1980s.

It still took until 2010 for the U.K. to secure most other rights for LGBTQ people, including adoption, marriage, and protection from discrimination.

The fight for sexual and gender equality has been long and arduous, but one thing is certain: Queer people have always been here, regardless of what they were called at various times in history.

Naming things is how we give them power. The words we use today make it easier for us to see and to accept identities that have always been present for what they truly are: essential parts of the human experience.

This article originally appeared on 12.21.16

Of the various ways to speak the English language, the Scottish dialects are some of the most fascinating to listen to. I'm apparently not alone in this thinking, as TikTok has exploded with Scottish people simply sharing Scottish things with their Scottish brogue and collecting fans hand over fist.

As an American, I don't always understand what these TikTokers are saying, which is probably why some of them specialize in translating Scottish slang terms into non-Scottish English. But even when there's no issue understanding, there's something part-funny, part-sexy about the Scottish accent that gets me every time. If I could pay James McAvoy to read me a bedtime story every night, I would.

In fact, McAvoy shared a bit about his accent in this clip with Stephen Colbert, which was the first time I'd seen a Scot explain that the word "burglary" trips them up.

James McAvoy Plays Stephen Colbert's Lightning Roundyoutu.be

Apparently, it's not just him. There's a well-known phrase, "purple burglar alarm," that is notoriously difficult for some Scots to say without tripping over their tongue. And watching some of them try is delightfully entertaining.

Some Scots can't say "purple burglar alarm"www.youtube.com

It's literally a tongue twister.

Funny Scotsman Trying To Say " Purple Burglar Alarm "www.youtube.com

It's even funny without the "purple."

Burgalar Alarmwww.youtube.com

"Aw, bullocks."

Purple burglar alarmwww.youtube.com

Purple burglar alarm !www.youtube.com

This poor guy can't even get past "purple." (Language warning, if you've got the wee ones around.)

Funny Scottish man can't say purple burglar alarmwww.youtube.com

The only thing better than a Scot being unable to say "purple burglar alarm" is a Scot who is able to say it because somehow it still sounds like they're drowning.


#stereotype #scotland #fyp

Nothing but love for you, Scots! Thanks for the giggles, and please don't ever stop talking.

via Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious / Flickr

It's probably pretty hard for someone born outside of the United States to make sense of our country. It's large, has a diverse population, and its topography encompasses everything from low deserts to frozen Arctic climates to dense forests.

However, the United States is probably the most culturally dominant society in the world. People across the globe read our books, watch our movies, and listen to our music. So most people probably have a clearer concept of what life's like in our country then we do about them.

A British man that goes by the Twitter handle human_not_bees (Beës) tested his knowledge of the country across the pond by listing all of America's states and then saying what he thinks they're known for best. He claims he did so without Googling.

He was confident that he could get most of them right because U.S. culture is "pretty pervasive," he told Bored Panda. "We see enough of it that we learn these things from TV shows and movies. Also, you guys have some pretty cheesy TV that seems very willing to lean into the stereotypes of people and places, so really, you guys did this to yourselves," he added.

Here's his list. Do you think he got most of the states right?

It looks like this guy got Florida perfect. It's also the state where people in America say, "Oh God, this country." But let's not be too cruel to sunny Florida, it's also home to Disney World and was where "The Birdcage" was filmed. So it's not all that bad.

I'm a little surprised that Beës didn't know Louisiana is home to New Orleans one of the most culturally significant cities on planet Earth. It's the birthplace of jazz, poker, and Lil Wayne.

He's right about Maryland, even Americans have no idea what happens in Maryland.

Ahh, we get it. America borrowed a few geographical names from places in England. But who helped you beat the Nazis in World War II? Thought so.

Is this a Paul M. Sutter reference?

via Ohioana Library / Twitter


So how did he do? If he were American I'd give him a D+. But as a Brit, he has a pretty strong understanding of America. I wonder how many Americans would be able to do something similar with the U.K.? What's Wolverhampton best known for? How about Wyre Piddle? Giggleswick? Scranton on Themes?

(Just kidding. There is no such place as Scranton on Themes.)

On Monday, April 23, Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, gave birth to a son, weighing 8 pounds, 7 ounces.

The announcement was posted on the official Kensington Palace Twitter account, which noted that Prince William was on-site for the birth of the couple's third child. The new baby will join siblings Prince George and Princess Charlotte, who are 4 and 2 years old, respectively.

As is tradition, a birth notice was posted in the court in front of the palace, where it'll stay for 24 hours before being sent to the Privy Council Office for official recording.

[rebelmouse-image 19346870 dam="1" original_size="750x461" caption="Outside of Buckingham Palace, an announcement reads: "Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge was safely delivered of a son at 11:01am today. Her Royal Highness and her child are both doing well." Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images." expand=1]Outside of Buckingham Palace, an announcement reads: "Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge was safely delivered of a son at 11:01am today. Her Royal Highness and her child are both doing well." Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.

Congratulatory notes rolled in, with Prime Minister Theresa May wishing the couple "great happiness for the future."

For the first time in history, a princess wasn't moved down in the line of succession to the throne with the birth of a younger brother.

The new baby takes up the fifth spot in the line of succession, behind Prince Charles, Prince William, Prince George, and Princess Charlotte. Prince Harry was bumped from fifth to sixth.

In previous generations, a newborn prince would be placed ahead of his older sister in the line. A British law passed in 2015 changed that, meaning that Charlotte retains her spot as fourth on the list.

Why care about a royal baby in the year 2018? And isn't monarchy a bit dated? Sure, but the royal family has a history in recent years of using its influence for good.

The royal family doesn't actually wield that much power these days, functioning mostly as figureheads. Still, that doesn't mean they can't use their platforms to bring attention to causes that matter.

Prince William, Prince George, Duchess Kate, and Princess Charlotte in 2017. Photo by Patrik Stollarz/AFP/Getty Images.

For the past couple of years, Princes William and Harry, as well as Kate Middleton, have used their influence to try to spark important conversations about mental health care. Harry spoke out on his own mental health struggles, the two brothers shared a heartfelt conversation about what it was like to lose their mother at such a young age, and William chatted with Lady Gaga for the Heads Together campaign. In January, Middleton announced a new program focused on discussing mental health issues with schoolchildren.