By Will Fellows
From huge towns to rural groups, homosexual males have lengthy been impassioned pioneers as keepers of tradition: rescuing and restoring decrepit structures, revitalizing blighted neighborhoods. Will Fellows explores this real and intricate size of homosexual men's lives by way of profiling early and modern preservationists from during the usa, highlighting contributions to the bigger tradition.
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The Essex Institute in Salem, Massachusetts, one of the oldest and largest local historical groups in the country, appears to have been another important locus for preservation-minded gays in the early 1900s. The institute conducted and published historical research, edited old diaries for its historical collections series, and collected engravings and photographs showing Essex County life in the past. Institute members were urged to give their heirlooms to a museum rather than allowing future generations to scatter their grandmothers’ things.
Brian Bigler developed a strong sense of place as a Wisconsin farm boy, started buying farm-related antiques at auctions by the age of eleven, and operated his own museum as an adolescent enterprise. At twenty he founded the Mount Horeb Historical Society. “There’s so much being lost,” Bigler says. “There’s nothing I despise more than seeing history divided up, sold off, and moved across the country. ” Mark Doty loves his old silverplate pitcher for the beauty of it dents and abrasions—evidence of the vessel’s 34 What These Gay Men’s Lives Reveal years of use by unknown people in unknown places.
8 It appears that the Walpole Society included not only a significant roster of confirmed bachelors but also a number of married gay men. One of these gentlemen married an heiress and, with the help of her family’s money, filled three houses to overflowing with antiques. His name was at the top of the list when those who began the Walpole Society started identifying men with antiquarian propensities who might be interested in joining. Another Walpolean with three antiques-filled houses, plus additional storerooms, was never married and lived with his mother.
A Passion to Preserve: Gay Men as Keepers of Culture by Will Fellows