Author Will Fellows learned about A Home of Her Own through my essay, “Women and Their [Sp]Houses,” which was published in the October issue of Old-House Interiors. Fellows contacted me after he read the book, pointing out some intriguing parallels between the intense relationships the women I profiled had developed with their homes and those of gay men he included in his 2004 work, A Passion to Preserve: Gay Men as Keepers of Culture.
“I came to see your book as something of a companion volume, recalling a comment by a fellow whose work at the National Trust led him to remark on the longstanding design- and preservation-minded alliance of straight females and gay males: ‘There’s a joke at the Trust, that it’s staffed by lots of gay men and divorced women, which, if you look closely, is not far from the truth.’”
In A Passion to Preserve, Fellows describes what he calls “key traits of preservation-minded gay men, past and present: gender atypicality; domophila (my term for ‘deep domesticity,’ an exceptional love of houses and things homey); romanticism; aestheticism; connection- and continuity-mindedness”–many of the same traits shared by the women in A Home of Her Own.
“To my mind,” he continues,
your book lends considerable support to one of my key conclusions: “Gay men make extraordinary contributions in historic preservation, an arena well populated by straight women, because the mix of things that preservation is about strike many of the same psychologic chords in gay males as in straight females.”
Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class, calls Fellows’s book “a rich and detailed examination of an important and heretofore neglected aspect of our urban heritage.”
Darden Asbury Pyron, author of Liberace: An American Boy, writes: “Clearly Will Fellows has hit a nerve with many gay men…. As with his previous book, Farm Boys, Fellows presents the material in people’s own voices as much as possible and the best of these essays (and there are many) are wonderfully readable capsule biographies and histories.”
Will Fellows is also the author of Gay Bar: The Fabulous, True Story of a Daring Woman and Her Boys in the 1950s.