Days of Love

Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time

By David-Elijah Nahmod – Feb. 26, 2015

Days of LoveReading Elisa Rolle’s impressive bio offers a glimpse into how much work she must have done in putting together this exhaustive tome.

Rolle, who currently resides in Italy, is a respected book reviewer and archivist who also operates her personal website “My Reviews and Ramblings” as a comprehensive study of the history of LGBT art and literature.

From artists and celebrities to politicians and social justice activists, Rolle beautifully documents one love story after the other. If Rolle was able to document a same-sex relationship, it was included here.

At more that 750 pages, Rolle’s Days of Love is a stunningly researched volume of gay, lesbian and bisexual love. For 725 pages, she chronicles the 2,000-year history of same-sex love, including more than 700 couples are included (followed by a 30-page index).

She starts at the beginning, in ancient Greece, with Alexander the Great. Throughout the centuries, she chronicles some of history’s better-known same-sex love stories, such as the love shared between the great 19th century playwright Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas – Wilde famously served time in jail for the crime of homosexuality.

Rolle clearly did her history homework here, and takes informs her readers who Douglas loved in the years following Wilde’s death. Douglas, who was bisexual, married poet Olive Custance, also bisexual, and they remained together for 27 years.

Some of the better-known names in Days of Love make for an entertaining read. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that 1940s cinema lovers actually believed that movie stars Cary Grant and Randolph Scott were “roommates.”

Other entries might surprise readers, such as the inclusion of Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan.

The beginnings of the 49 year live-in friendship between Sullivan and Keller was chronicled in William Gibson’s play The Miracle Worker, which became an acclaimed Oscar-winning film in 1962.

Keller was completely deaf and blind since the age of 18 months. Sullivan, who became Keller’s teacher, and taught her how to read and write braille and how to communicate. The two became world famous disability and social justice activists, and were inseparable until Sullivan died in 1936. Though Sullivan had a failed marriage to a man during her lifetime, she and Keller never lived apart and functioned as a single unit. Is it really a stretch to suggest that they may have loved each other?

Some of these loves may or may not have been sexual, lifelong friends Marlon Brando and Wally Cox being such an example. Brando was one of cinema’s most respected actors and Cox was a popular TV personality in the 1950s and ‘60s. When Cox died in 1973 Brando was devastated and, until his own death in 2004, he kept Cox’s ashes by his side. Both their ashes were eventually scattered together. Was this a platonic love? In his later years Brando admitted to being bisexual.

Other loves are more obvious, such as the 28-year relationship between Radclyffe Hall and Lady Troubridge, (Hall penned the classic lesbian novel The Well of Loneliness in 1928), or writer Christopher Isherwood, who lived with the much younger artist Don Bachardy as an openly gay couple for 33 years beginning in 1953–the couple’s life together was chronicled in the 2008 documentary Chris and Don: A Love Story.

Some of the more recent couples featured in the book are quoted. It’s heartwarming to see their wedding photos, which serve as a reminder as to how much harder previous generations were forced to live and how far we’ve come.

Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time is a wonderful and lovely addition to the annals of LGBT historical literature. The book is now available at Amazon.