Lasting Inspiration: Pay Memorial Day Respects at These Destination-Worthy Grave Sites of Our LGBT Forerunners

By Weimer, Ryan; Halden, LoAnn | The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine), January 29, 2008 | Go to article overview

Lasting Inspiration: Pay Memorial Day Respects at These Destination-Worthy Grave Sites of Our LGBT Forerunners


Weimer, Ryan, Halden, LoAnn, The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)


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1. OSCAR WILDE (1854-1900)

Pere-Lachaise Cemetery, Paris

Wind through the mausoleum-lined paths of Paris's largest cemetery--one of the most famous in the world--to the legendary gay novelist and playwright's tomb, with its modernist angel relief on the front and moving tribute on the back. One of Wilde's former lovers, Robert Ross, commissioned its construction and is buried in a compartment set into the sculpture. Lipstick stains left by adoring fans speckle the stone.

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2. GERTRUDE STEIN (1874-1946)

Pere-Lachaise Cemetery, Paris

Only a few yards from Oscar Wilde is the grave of esteemed writer Gertrude Stein, who is buried next to her longtime partner, Alice B. Toklas. How apropos that the woman who famously said, "A rose is a rose is a rose," has a flower box at her grave marker where visitors are encouraged to plant their floral offerings.

3. JAMES BALDWIN (1924-1987)

Ferncliff, Hartsdale, N.Y.

In this tree-filled suburban cemetery 25 miles north of New York City-where upright headstones aren't allowed-writer and activist James Baldwin's subtle floral-ringed bronze marker (Hillcrest A, grave 1203) is a pleasant stroll from the granite Ferncliff Mausoleum, where Judy Garland and Joan Crawford are interred.

4. W.H. AUDEN (1907-1973)

Cemetery at Kirchstetten, Austria

From 1958 until his death, Auden spent his summers at his home in this small eastern Austrian town less than 30 minutes from Vienna, and he is now buried in its center. A medley of flowers and plants cloak the grave, marked with an ornate wrought-iron cross and plaque. Also worth a look: The town's Auden museum displays a remodeled version of the poet's workroom.

5. TALLULAH BANKHEAD (1902-1968)

St. Paul Churchyard, Chestertown, Md.

After an unstable life-her infamous last words were "codeine ... bourbon"-the bisexual American actress rests in peace near a millpond in the shady northeast corner of the "new cemetery," a small section within St. Paul's 19-acre tree-lined churchyard. …

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