President and Mrs. Roosevelt on board Amberjack II in Southwest Harbor, July 25, 1933. Frances Kellor (in fedora and tie in back) stands next to her partner Mary Dreier (in white). Nan Cook is behind Eleanor Roosevelt, and her partner Marion Dickerson is in the beret. PHOTO COURTESY OF SOUTHWEST HARBOR PUBLIC LIBRARY

Lesbian History Trail launches Oct. 26 



SOUTHWEST HARBOR — On Tuesday, Oct. 26 at 5:30 p.m., the Southwest Harbor Public Library will host the launch of the Lesbian History Trail of Mount Desert Island with an online cyber tour, featuring local playwright Carolyn Gage. The self-guided route, found at https://lesbianhistorytrailmdi.weebly.com, leads to the homes, or homesites, of seven famous lesbian couples of historical significance and their partners, also women of achievement. 

When Gage moved to Southwest Harbor from Portland five years ago, she knew of Marguerite Yourcenar and Grace Frick and their home Petit Plaisance in Northeast Harbor, but her curiosity led to her search for the stories of other famous lesbian couples who lived on Mount Desert Island. She found women who ran the gamut from daughters of fabulously wealthy industrialists “from away” to working-class women native to the island. Together with Tina Gainoulis, professional researcher and writer, Gage created a resource that includes a list of sites, travel directions, biographies, stories and resources crediting historical institutions and other resources on MDI. 

Ruth Moore and Eleanor Mayo building their house.
PHOTO COURTESY OF SOUTHWEST HARBOR PUBLIC LIBRARY

Couples included on the trail range from authors Yourcenar and Frick and Ruth Moore and Eleanor Mayo, to activists, LaRue Spiker and Louise Gilbert. Spiker and Gilbert were a part of the group of supporters who helped guard and offer some protection to Andrew and Charlotte Wade, a Black couple living in a white section of Louisville, Ky. After the couple’s house was firebombed in 1954, Spiker and Gilbert were among seven white activists arrested and charged for conspiring to flout segregation laws. One stop on this historic journey is a bench in Southwest Harbor in front of Harbor House Community Center dedicated to Spiker for her activism and contributions to the island. 

In addition to writing plays, Gage is a performer, director and activist. The author of nine collections of lesbian and feminist themed plays, and 83 plays, musicals and one-woman shows, she specializes in nontraditional roles for women, especially those reclaiming famous lesbians whose stories have been distorted or erased from history. Gage’s papers are archived in the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College and her plays are archived in the Maine Women Writers Collection at the Abplanalp Library, University of New England Portland Campus, https://library.une.edu/mwwc. 

Register for the online program at https://swhplibrary.libcal.com/event/8385375. 

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