“In Spite of Everything invites us into the lives of twenty-two ordinary, but also extraordinary women. Part Ellen DeGeneres, part Studs Terkel, Leila Peters allows the women to tell their own stories—about their lives, their challenges, their relationships. The women trust her—and us—enough to share their difficulties and failures as well as their joys and successes and we are richer for their honesty. Although these women share being in long-term lesbian relationships, their lives are incredibly varied. We have much to learn from them about loving and living well.”
Dr. Nancy Marie Robertson, Director of Women’s Studies Indiana University/ Purdue University. Indianapolis
“Leila Peters has chronicled the inspiring and captivating stories of lesbian couples from all walks of life who maintained long lasting and flourishing relationships in the face of a disapproving and sometimes hostile family and community. This book is important not only as an historical record of determined women who prevailed against the odds, but as powerful evidence of the urgent need to legitimize same-sex relationships through the legal recognition of gay marriage.”
Barbara Baird, Esquire, With Chuck Loring, Barbara organized the first Lambda Legal Indiana Benefit Dinner, a premiere fund raising event which benefits the legal needs of the LGBT community.
“Stories, stories…I just love to read stories! Warm, thought-provoking, hilarious, gut-wrenching, sexy, wonderful stories. Leila spins the tales of these women’s lives sensitively, honestly, and with just the right amount of background.”
Mary Byrne, Executive Director of Indiana Youth Group
“In Spite of Everything balances painful stories of sickness, poverty, prejudice and repression with tales of romance, joy and passion. This book is a walk down the not-always-happy memory lanes of lesbian relationships in the latter half of the 20th century into the twenty-first century, rich with detail, and narrated in a matter-of-fact way that sugarcoats nothing but leaves the reader feeling that with love, anything is possible. I’d love to see a “five years later” sequel, bringing us up to date on these fascinating women.”
Becky Thacker, Amazon Girls’ Handbook, Wicker Park Press, 2002
Faithful Unto Death, University of Michigan Press, Fall 2010
“I was much impressed by the diversity of Relationships described in Leila Peters’ book. The themes of Honesty, Struggle, and Success are compelling. Its power lies in the telling of real life stories of Women fighting for love.”
Joseffa Crowe— Storyteller, author of “Growing Up Under the Swastika.”
She wrenched her back and neck and had to be helped into her house.” Mel and Adam sat in the den watching television. The women were in the kitchen. Rachael was in agony even after several aspirin. Miriam asked, “Would you like me to rub you with Ben Gay?” If Rachael had said “No,” it might have taken ten more years for Miriam to acknowledge her feelings for Rachael! Thankfully, when she began kneading Rachael’s neck and shoulders, a little thrill caught in her chest. A warm, pink blush rose to her cheeks. She kept moving her fingers slowly over Rachael’s back and Miriam knew that touching Rachael meant more than therapeutic massage. She tried to compose herself and assumed a casual expression, but it was too late. Rachael had seen, and Rachael knew that her prayers had been answered.
When the summer was over, Rachael picked up her daily routine. She missed seeing Miriam every day. It made it difficult to suppress the longing that had surfaced at the end of their summer in the country. Rachael had waited ten years for Miriam’s touch. Miriam was such a tender, sweet woman, and Rachael knew her touch would heal her of more than her sprained neck. She must make sure of Miriam’s feelings. She remembers, “I had been invited to go out to eat with friends whom I usually enjoyed. We would laugh, have a few drinks, and have a good time. This time, all I could think of was how much I missed Miriam. It was pining that brought physical pain.” Rachael couldn’t even manage to make the right responses in their conversation. A big invisible fist had seized her and started squeezing. “I couldn’t think about anything but getting back to Miriam to talk with her. I needed to ask the question that would change everything, for better or worse. Would Miriam remember what I asked? Would she remember the answer?”
The next day was Sunday, and that meant bowling league. Rachael knew that Miriam would be smoking pot that evening to get through sex with her husband, so Rachael chose that time to call Miriam. “I knew she would be stoned on pot, and I needed the truth. Maybe if she said, ‘No’ when I asked her the question, she would be stoned enough to forget the whole conversation.” After several busy signals, the phone rang. As soon as Miriam answered Rachael asked, “Do you have sexual feelings for me?”
There was a quick intake of breath and then Miriam answered, “Yes.”
There was only a long silence from Miriam’s end.
Leila Peters received her bachelors and masters degrees at Butler University where she met Suzie, the woman she loved. They were both teachers. In their thirty-five years together they traveled, bought a farm and raised Arabian horses, and found a dream cabin in Montana. Until In Spite of Everything became her passion, she wrote magazine articles about the things she loved: farm life, nature, and horses. She has been published in Outdoor Indiana, The Western Horseman, The Writers’ Center of Indianapolis periodical, Flying Island, and Teacher Magagine. It was Suzie’s death that prompted the writing of their story which became the catalist for gathering stories of other women who have been in loving relationships for nineteen years or more. Leila still lives on the farm she and Suzie bought in 1970 and loves to ride and walk over the land. She also spends time at her cabin in Montana in the summer, where she does much of her writing. After living alone for seventeen years she was blessed for the second time with a wonderful woman. Another chapter begins.