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Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time Paperback – July 1, 2014
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"It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I immediately went looking for our entry, but kept stopping along the way to read others. I kept learning things. I didn't know that Bob Giard's photo of the two naked men sharing a newspaper was of Larry Duplechan and his partner. And I love your decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. I am delighted to be part of this. The layout and photos look terrific." - Christopher Bram
"I couldn't resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! Now that I've seen the breadth of this, I'm doubly honored that we have been included. I hope that it captures the attention of librarians far and wide. I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids who might not be able to afford the cost of purchasing the book but who will surely find it if is available on library shelves and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold." - Howard Cruse
"This history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun." - Jack Fritscher
"I have been reading your book all morning. It is simply wonderful! The research and passion you put into this project is absolutely stunning! And to be included in this is such a terrific honor. I can' thank you enough." - Nick Nolan
"Wow, the book looks BEAUTIFUL! A wonderful book!" - Barry Brennessel
"Wow! This is wonderful! An impressive undertaking. We are so grateful to be included in this important book. Thank you for all of your efforts and for this wonderful gift to the world." - Salvatore Sapienza
"This book will surely become a valuable resource to all, and a comforting reminder that romance has always existed in many diverse forms." - Jay Bell
"This is a stunning achievement!!! It's fantastic!!! It's A WINNER!!!!!" - Fay Jacobs
"It looks beautiful. Thanks you so much for doing this book, I think it is very important." - Michael Bronski
"WOW! This is wonderful. Much more than I was expecting this project to be. We are really honored to be among your 6 or 7 hundred some gay couples of history. This is really wonderful! I'll say it again." - Toby Johnson
"The book is wonderful. We were bowled over by the beauty and detail. Thank you so much for including our story in it. Well done on a marvelous achievement - you can tell it is a real labour of love." - Toby Oliver
"One of the most extraordinary books published in the last decade. It should win a Lammy for the year." - Charles Silverstein, co-author Joy of Gay Sex
From the Author
I have always liked love stories, and to me, even if you only spent one day in blissful happiness, then it was a love story. Moreover, love stories blossoming despite everything have always fascinated me, when they should not, when it was unlikely and dangerous. I see the following pages like a family photo album, the enlarged LGBT family sharing their memories: you will read about couples who managed to stay together for more than 70 years, but also those who were able to have only some days of happiness. 70 years or 1 day, those men and women fought, and some are still fighting, for their love, and that is what makes them special. Going through the names you will think, "what about her? And him?" This is not a comprehensive catalogue of who was gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender in history, I tried to feature couples, with, most of the time, long-term relationships. Moreover, each entry is like a postcard, and so to feature them I needed a suitable portrait. Not always it was easy to find one, and I really need to say thank you to two wonderful men, and their companions: Jonathan Silin, Robert Giard's surviving partner, who allowed me to use Bob's archive; and Stathis Orphanos and his partner Ralph Sylvester, who not only contributed with their own love story, but gave me access to the photos Stathis did of their friends. Of course, there is someone else I need to include in my thank you, my friend Vincent Virga, who one day, to my nth post on a LGBT couple from the past, said it was a shame they were lost on the net, without a place where people can go and browse them, easily... at that time I had collected so many of those couples that in 2 days the first draft of Days of Love was ready. There are other artists I want to pay homage to, even if, or course, they will never know how helpful they were to me: Carl van Vechten, whose 1000s of portraits of the LGBT community between US and Europe is now partially available at the Library of Congress, an invaluable gift to researchers; John Singer Sargent, whose portraits of middle class and aristocracy "hide" a treasure of hidden LGBT history (John Singer Sargent may have or not have been homosexual, but for sure he portrayed many who are now out of that closet in which their time forced them); Arnold Genthe, the photographer of the Gilded age, the one who immortalized many of those daring American heiresses and heirs who refused the cage society planned for them, and found their happiness in the arms of a same sex lover. And last, but not least, my thank you goes to all those wonderful couples who replied to my call, sharing their love stories and their family portraits, sometime professionally taken, sometime the photo of a friend with a little camera at a family gathering. Each of you is in my heart, and you are the heart of this book.
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I purchased a print edition for my local PFLAG group, because I believed that in a world where there is so much negativity towards the LGBT community, our members needed to hear the positive message of enduring love.
Each page is a different story, so don't let the size of the book scare you. Got a few minutes? Peer into the life of another couple, some who were together for as many as sixty years. Lovely, lovely book. Highly recommended.
Case in point, I purchased The Up Stairs Lounge Arson by Clayton Delery-Edwards and I am inching my way through it because it disturbs me so. It is important history. It’s brilliantly written. It’s heart-crushing.
So, if you wonder why I rarely talk nonfiction, that’s the answer.
That said, nonfiction can also bring joys.
Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time, by Elisa Rolle is one of those joys. I’m willing to bet that if you’re an LGBT reader and you think you don’t know who Elisa Rolle is, you actually do – chances are someone in the LGBT world has linked to one of her reviews about their work. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve been on the lucky receiving end of that honour. Rolle’s reviews are complete, honest, and – even when critical – provide a reader with enough information to know whether or not the book is something for them. She’s a force for awareness in the LGBT literary world, and we’re the richer for having her.
This book is a collection of true stories about LGBT relationships spanning back from Alexander the Great and the purported love he shared with Hephaestion to relationships that began in 2012. Each page is a couple, telling of their meeting (if known), the progression of their romance (again, what details might be found), and their ultimate ends.
Organized as it is in a chronological sense, something happens as you page your way through these stories – you find a continuum.
Now, I’ve said this over and over, but one of the things about being a queer is that you don’t inherit a queer cultural lineage from your biological family. Those who have come before are almost surely strangers to you. It is quite likely you know nothing of queer history (because, if we’re honest, it’s just not taught in any mainstream way). The individual stories that make up queer culture are out there – yes – but that’s exactly it: they’re out there. A brand new queer kid has to go looking.
Books like this are invaluable. As I read the stories, I found myself moving through eras, seeing – achingly slowly – the progression queer culture has made, the gains and losses and victories and pain. Near the end of the collection, entries are full of queer couples marrying after decades of being together without that right. It is a hopeful collection.
We have to share our stories. It’s the only way we’ll continue to have our culture, this strange and wonderful queer culture that is made of individuals that begin in so many different places. Every single love story in this collection, whether joyful, painful, or ongoing, is a story worth knowing, and telling, and celebrating.