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Devotions and DesiresHistories of Sexuality and Religion in the Twentieth-Century United States$
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Gillian Frank, Bethany Moreton, and Heather R. White

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469636269

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469636269.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 26 September 2021

Winnifred Wygal’s Flock

Winnifred Wygal’s Flock

Same-Sex Desire and Christian Faith in the 1920s

(p.17) Winnifred Wygal’s Flock
Devotions and Desires

Kathi Kern

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter follows the life and personal relationships of Winnifred Wygal (1884–1972), a career Young Women’s Christian Association worker. Wygal forged an erotic life that challenged both the conventions of heterosexual “companionate marriage” and the concomitant emergence of homosexual “pathology” that characterized early twentieth-century domestic relations. Her perception of the boundless capacity of God’s love emboldened Wygal to engage romantically with a number of different women, including Frances Perry, her companion from 1910 to 1940, as well as multiple other women who became, as she sometimes put it, part of her “fold.” Wygal’s diary provides a rare window on a Christian’s negotiation of her sexuality and underscores a central contribution of this book: religious faith played a shaping role in validating same-sex desire in the first half of the twentieth century.

Keywords:   heterosexuality, companionate marriage, homosexuality, polyamory, Christianity, Protestantism, Winnifred Wygal, YWCA, Young Women’s Christian Association, Boston Marriage

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