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 USA (Volume 1), I want to skip to obvious choices as San Francisco or New York City, and instead going in remote Wyoming, or at least it was remote when the story I’m telling you unfolded. Dr. Grace Hebard retired from teaching in 1931. She continued to research and collect historical material in her Laramie home, known to students and colleagues as “The Doctors Inn”. Hebard lived in this house that she had had built with her friend, Agnes M. Wergeland, who died in 1914. To the time of death, she was a dominant — and perhaps domineering — figure on campus. The Doctors Inn is at 318 S 10th St, Laramie. Agnes Wergeland was a Norwegian American poet and historian. In 1916, Maren Michelet wrote a biography about the recently deceased Wergeland, who was the first Norwegian woman to achieve a doctorate. Wergeland had to emigrate to the United States to get a job at a university, because the Norwegian universities were not open to women yet. However, it turned out to be difficult to get a relevant job in the United States as well. For 12 years, Dr. Wergeland lived in Chicago, trying to get a permanent position at the university. During this period, she lived with a Miss Merrill, with whom she had a relationship. When, after 12 years, Dr. Wergeland got a job at University of Wyoming in 1902, she left Chicago and Miss Merrill. In Wyoming, Dr. Wergeland met, and moved in with, Dr. Grace Hebard. The 1916 biography describes this as an unusually happy domestic partnership. Together the two women built the house The Doctors’ Inn, and later also the log cabin Enebo on the lot Lille Norge (Little Norway) further up in the mountains. Their life together is described as the ultimate idyllic scene, with a cozy home, a group of close female friends, gardening, and caring for humans and animals in need. These two women also got 12 years together, before Agnes Wergeland became sick, and died after a relatively short period of illness. Of her end, the biography writes: “In her dear friend’s arms, with a smile on her lips, she silently wandered, saying: ‘Without you, life would have been impossible for me'”. Wergeland and Hebard are buried together at Greenhill Cemetery, Laramie, Plot: Row C, Lot 35, Space 4.
You can get the books here: