SOUTH-WEST PORT – On Tuesday, October 26 at 5:30 p.m., the Southwest Harbor Public Library will host the Mount Desert Island Lesbian History Trail launch 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 habitation sites, of seven famous lesbian couples of historical significance and their partners, also accomplished women.
When Gage moved to Southwest Harbor from Portland five years ago, she was familiar with Marguerite Yourcenar and Grace Frick and their Petit Plaisance home in Northeast Harbor, but her curiosity led her to research the stories of other famous lesbian couples who lived on Mount Desert Island. . She found women who ranged from the daughters of fabulously wealthy industrialists “from afar” to working-class women from the island. Together with Tina Gainoulis, professional researcher and writer, Gage has created a resource that includes a list of sites, routes, biographies, stories and resources crediting historical institutions and other resources on MDI.
The couples included on the trail range from writers Yourcenar and Frick and Ruth Moore and Eleanor Mayo to activists LaRue Spiker and Louise Gilbert. Spiker and Gilbert were among the group of supporters who helped guard and provide some protection for Andrew and Charlotte Wade, a black couple living in a white neighborhood in Louisville, Ky. After the couple’s house was burnt down in 1954 , Spiker and Gilbert were among seven white activists arrested and charged with conspiring to flout segregation laws. One stop on this historic journey is a bench at Southwest Harbor outside the Harbor House Community Center dedicated to Spiker for his activism and contributions to the island.
In addition to writing plays, Gage is a performer, director and activist. Author of nine collections of lesbian and feminist-themed plays, and 83 plays, musicals and one-woman shows, she specializes in non-traditional roles for women, especially those who claim famous lesbians whose stories have been distorted or erased from history. that of Gage documents are archived in the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College and her pieces are archived in the Maine Women Writers Collection at Abplanalp Library, University of New England Portland Campus, https://library.une.edu/mwwc.
Register for the program online at https://swhplibrary.libcal.com/event/8385375.