Available from Bywater Books
My fourth novel, The Ada Decades, will be hitting bookstores in a few weeks, and to say I’m excited is an understatement. Not only is it my first published novel in 20 years, but it’s also a love letter to lesbian history of the not-so-distant past – one that has been brewing in me for quite a while.
Years ago, I attended a queer history workshop with the great gay historian Allan Berube (Coming Out Under Fire), in which he asked participants to imagine how we would have met lovers if we lived in a different, more closeted era. The gay men said they would have gone to parks or other public spaces; the lesbians among us mentioned schools, colleges, and libraries. It made sense to me – lesbians love books, right?
Since then, I’ve done a lot of thinking about the question of how lesbians found friends and lovers in the past. Some famous couples you may know met in decidedly literary ways: Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, co-founders of Daughters of Bilitis, met working at a publishing house; Willa Cather and Edith Lewis crossed paths after they both published stories in the same women’s magazine; and Sylvia Beach admired Adrienne Monnier’s bookshop in Paris and wandered in to introduce herself. In a similar vein, I decided to make my protagonist in The Ada Decades a librarian in North Carolina, and the woman she falls in love with is a junior high school English teacher with a penchant for the work of Lorraine Hansberry (A Raisin in the Sun) and Lillian Smith (Strange Fruit).
Over the next few weeks on this site, I’m going to roll out some of the real places associated with the characters in my book – like the mill community where Ada grew up, one of the first schools in Charlotte to be integrated, and the picturesque town of Davidson, N.C. You might even get to see the pickup truck that Ada and Cam’s gay friend Twig drives. I hope you’ll come along for the ride.
In the meantime, The Ada Decades is available exclusively on the Bywater Books website until March 14, when it becomes available everywhere.
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Posted in archives, Kansas, libraries on April 21, 2010|
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Here’s a cool story out of Kansas City, where the city’s museum is teaming with the county historical society and the University of Missouri-Kansas City library to begin collecting LGBT artifacts, documents, and oral histories. The new archive will fabulously be known as GLAMA – or Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-America. Check out this story about it in the most recent issue of CAMP, K.C.’s queer publication. If you have stories or items related to LGBT history of mid-America, contact Stuart Hinds of the UMKC Miller Nichols Library at email@example.com.
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1619 Dayton Avenue, Suite 105
Quatrefoil Library, the country’s second oldest lending library of materials related to sexual minorities (the Gerber/Hart Library in Chicago was the first), takes its name from the 1951 novel by James Barr, Quatrefoil, which was one of the first to depict gay characters positively. In the mid-1970s, David Irwin and his partner, Dick Hewetson, each began collecting gay-themed books. When they moved in together in 1977, they combined their collections and kept them in the linen closet of their condo, which was soon overflowing with volumes. The two men incorporated their holdings as Quatrefoil Library in 1983, and the first public home of the library opened several years later at 1021 West Broadway. Though their relationship ended not long after the library was incorporated, their important collection of gay literature was able to live on.
The library grew exponentially during its early years and in 1987 found larger, much-needed space at this address (“a cozy set of rooms,” according to one reporter), a former school renovated to house the offices of various organizations. Today, still located at this address, Quatrefoil collects not only books and magazines, but memorabilia, audio and video, games, newspaper clippings, and historical erotica related to sexual minorities. At a celebration in 1991, Quatrefoil‘s author, James Barr, was the library’s guest of honor.
In 2008, the library published its own history; it is available online here.
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