In doing so, it became apparent to me that Mormon women found that the intensity of female homosociality available in Mormon structures created a vital space in which they could explore passionate, romantic relationships with each other.At the same time I have uncovered some of the problematics of male homosociality - its power to arbitrarily defend or exile men accused of entering into erotic relationships with other men.
polygamy), Mormons disavowed other sexual perversities (such as sodomy) - especially if by doing so persecution could be deflected from themselves onto others.
In feminist Adrienne Rich's ground-breaking 1980 essay "Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence" she describes her theory of a "lesbian continuum" on which she believes all women exist, whether they identify themselves as Lesbian or not.
Smith explained that God was an exalted [heterosexual] man and that mortal existence was a testing ground for men to begin to progress toward exalted godhood.
Salvation became a family affair revolving around a husband whose plural wives and children were sealed to him for eternity under the 'new and everlasting covenant'."  Polygamy thus bound together all of Mormon theology and cosmology, while simultaneously defining early Mormon sexuality and setting Mormons off as a "peculiar people" - a separate and elite community of believers and practicants.
Indeed, her biographer claims that her sister-wives' "role in ensuring Ellis's professional advancement stands as a moving testimony to the close relationships possible among Mormon plural wives." Milford Shipp was almost entirely uninvolved in the lives of his wives.
He gave them important marital status and fathered their children.Indeed at least one Mormon woman went so far as to request that her husband marry polygamously after she fell in love with another woman, so that the two women could openly live together.Sarah Louisa Bouton married Joseph Felt in 1866 as his first wife but according to a 1919 biography, around 1874, Louie (the masculinized nickname she used) met and "fell in love with" a young woman in her local LDS congregation named Alma Elizabeth (Lizzie) Mineer. After discovering her intense passion for Lizzie Mineer, a childless Louie encouraged Joseph to marry the young woman as a plural wife, explaining "that some day they would be privileged to share their happiness with some little ones." Joseph married Lizzie Mineer in 1876.Despite the fact that Joseph Smith deified, eternalized, and pluralized heterosexuality through polygamy and temple ritual, early Mormon women found that their bodies, sensuality, and desires were neither tamed nor contained by obedience to the institution of polygamy.I believe that many women found creative, unique, and intensely meaningful ways to confess and express their desire for other women. Carol Lasser, has documented that Victorian women in America, in order to formalize "Romantic Friendships" with other women, sometimes married brothers, becoming sisters-in-law and sharing a surname.But Lizzie's new responsibilities of bearing and raising children evidently proved too great a strain for her and Louie's relationship.