A Passion to Preserve: Gay Men as Keepers of Culture by Will Fellows

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 genuine and complicated size of homosexual men's lives by way of profiling early and modern preservationists from in the course of the usa, highlighting contributions to the bigger tradition.

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This silent brotherhood crowds the pages of Collecting: An Unruly Passion. Although nearly all the cases in the book are males, many quite likely gay, the author ignores the connection except in the obliquely winking way. As a very young boy one man showed a strong inclination toward certain foods, flowers, and colors. Another collected dolls and statuettes of saints as a child and, at the launch of his short-lived marriage, insisted on spending his honeymoon in antique shops. 18 In Search of Gay Preservationists 23 Until recently being gay was considered to be of such devastating relevance to one’s essential fitness as a human being that it was absolutely not talked about.

This narrative combines excerpts from those two works, describing Doty’s and Roberts’s immersion in New England old-house rehabilitation and auction-going in the 1980s. 16 I HAVE AN OLD SILVERPLATE PITCHER, a sturdy and serviceable thing made for use in a hotel, or a boardinghouse, or on a train. Simple, shapely. It sits now in the center of a painted blue round table, beside a white tureen holding a small shell-pink begonia from the A&P, the flowers clenched, a little reluctant to open indoors, in March, in New England.

20 To keep that thrill of redemption going, many gay preservationists have devoted years to doing one restoration after another. Over a period of thirty years Jim Williams restored more than fifty houses. Robert Barker rehabilitated his first house when he was eighteen and did a dozen more over the years. Their daunting labors were inspired not by visions of financial gain (though that sometimes accrued) but by the deeply satisfying process of taking a place that had been greatly diminished and putting it back the way it was originally, the way it was meant to be.

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