Hey all – today we have something different. The author of the new Queer Places – travel guides detailing the LGBTIQA history of places all around the world – agreed to write a special post for us about how she decided to write the books, and sharing a few of her favorite stories:
While I was writing Days of Love, I was researching the lives of many couples, and I found that often they chose to be buried together, most of the time side by side. In a first draft of Days of Love I was “listing” these burial places, but then, on the final version, I removed most of them, storing the info aside On other occasion, not related to the researches for Days of Love, I was visiting for my pleasure some places, and I strongly felt like there was a “queer” connection; it happened with Vizcaya in Miami, and with Glenveagh Castle in Ireland; back home I did some digging on the internet and found out that was the case, both owners, even if not officially out, were presumably gay (but nothing is written in their official biographies). So, putting aside information after information, and loving to travel, I had collected a huge amount of historical tidbits, and putting them together I realized I had basically the material to write not one, not two, but at least three travel guides… and this is how Queer Places was born. The Purple Roofs Gay Travel Blog asked me to pick some interesting inputs from Queer Places and I decided to pick one from each books.
For the UK (Volume 2), I will pick St. Ann’s Court, Chertsey (near Heathrow airport). St Ann’s Court is a reinforced concrete private house that was finished in 1936 by the Australian born architect, Raymond McGrath, for a stockbroker friend, Gerald Schlesinger. The house stands in 25 acres of parkland on the south slope of St Ann’s Hill. Conservation work on the structure was completed in 1999 and included an authentic refurbishment of the interior at a total cost of around pounds 1 million. Gerald “AL” Schlesinger’s partner was Christopher Tunnard. Schlesinger was a successful stockbroker whilst Tunnard became one of the most important Modern landscape architects in Britain. The two men lived at St Ann’s for most of the year (though they had a large London home) and the unusual first floor master bedroom enabled their double bed to be separated easily into two and rolled into the wings of the bow-tie shaped room. In this position the bedroom became two single bedrooms separated by movable screens and a circular dressing room. With this arrangement they could maintain the fiction when house guests were expected that they slept in separate rooms – which was essential when sex between men was illegal.
You can get the books here: