Anne Lister: First ‘Modern Lesbian’ To Finally Get Historic Blue Plaque Marking Her Sexuality

'The very definition of lesbianism'.
A tribute to Anne Lister in York is to be re-worded after complaints.
A tribute to Anne Lister in York is to be re-worded after complaints.

A tribute to the 19th Century diarist, Anne Lister, is to be re-worded after campaigners said it “erased” her sexuality.

The blue plaque on the walls of Holy Trinity church in York was intended to mark the location of Lister’s communion with her girlfriend, Ann Walker, close to 200 years ago.

Lister was portrayed in ITV drama ‘Gentleman Jack’ – named after her nickname – with her diaries later found to include coded details of her relationships with women, the Guardian reported.

A petition calling on the York Civic Trust – which runs the historic city’s blue plaque scheme – to consider a re-think gained thousands of signatures since the tribute’s unveiling on 24 July.

The organisation announced that new wording would be put out to consultation shortly.

The tribute is believed to be the first blue plaque to be bordered by rainbow colours in celebration of LGBT history, but the Trust added it would also respond to complaints the colours were in the wrong order.

Julie Furlong, who started a petition to change the plaque’s wording, told the BBC she was pleased the wording was to change: “I am very happy that they have realised that lesbian erasure is not acceptable, but I will wait to hear on the final wording before expressing opinion as to that.”

Furlong wrote on “Anne Lister was, most definitely, gender non conforming all her life. She was also however, a lesbian. That is why she took vows with her girlfriend in that church, because they were in love with each other and wanted to express that same sex love - the very definition of lesbianism.

“Don’t let them erase this iconic woman from our history.

“Anne Lister was a lesbian.”

York Civic Trust did not immediate respond to a request for further comment.

Lister, a wealthy Yorkshire land owner, died in 1840, aged 49.


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