Anne Bonny and Mary Read: Queer pirates of the seas
Though both of them had their share of male lovers, the two sailed together in the same ship and were good friends.
And though there are no historical records to support this, a number of people surmise that the two could have also been lovers (and not just as form of shipping).
Anne Bonny and Mary Read: Historical pirates
The background of both women are too long to recount here, but their histories had a number of similarities.
Anne was born in Ireland, while Mary was from England. Both were illegitimate children and were at times dressed as boys to fool other people.
Anne married a would-be pirate named James Bonny who later began inform the government about pirate activities.
Because of this, she left him for a pirate captain named John “Calico Jack” Rackam and served as his lover and as part of his crew.
When Mary grew up, she disguised herself as male while serving as a sailor and as a soldier. It was while Mary was serving on a merchant ship in the West Indies when Anne’s pirate ship chanced upon them.
Mary was forcibly recruited into Anne’s crew. In order to dissuade Anne from seducing her, Mary had to bare her breasts in order to avoid Rackham’s jealousy.
You could say that this was the start of a beautiful friendship between the two women pirates.
Anne Bonny and Mary Read: Their relationship
Both women had their share of adventures, making a name for themselves among the pirates. However, their mark in history was cemented during their capture by a government ship.
Rackham’s crew were mostly passed out after a night on drinking on the ship. That’s why when the enemy captain called for their surrender, after an initial struggle, Rackham agreed to it.
However, Anne and Mary resisted the call and urged the pirates to fight. According to legend, Mary told off the pirates on-board, saying: “If there’s a man among ye, ye’ll come up and fight like the man ye are to be!”
Later on, during their imprisonment, Anne told Rackham that: “If you had fought like a man, you need not have been hang’d like a dog.”
As noted above, both women were never outright described in historical documents as queers or lesbians. However, the historian Susan Baker noted a possible lesbian relationship because of their love and care for each other.
Likewise, Rictor Norton– a literary and cultural history writer– noted that: “Evidence of their homosexuality is not so clear cut as we might wish, and at most they were bisexual, so ‘lesbian’ is not strictly accurate.”
“In any case, we must take into account Anne and Mary’s dismissive treatment of their temporary male paramours and even their children, their obvious enjoyment of their cross-dressing, and the fact that they acted together as a couple and obviously loved one another; so the evidence suggests that they must be relevant to any history of lesbian experience,” Norton pointed out.
Given that there weren’t a lot of records of that period, it’s possible that a relationship between Anne Bonny and Mary Read could have been more than platonic.
After all, lesbians had to come up with terms like a Boston Marriage to hide these things from the less-than forgiving judgment of men.