On a warm June afternoon, a small group braves the on-and-off rain for a walking tour at the Mount Auburn Cemetery. Founded in 1831, the artfully landscaped graveyard hosts bird, flower, and historic tours. Since it’s June, author and volunteer Robin Hazard Ray is leading visitors on her “Pride Week Walk” to the graves of the Mount Auburn’s gays and lesbians.
They head past extra weepy willows to Catalpa Path and the first stop — a tiny marker at the grave of William Sturgis Bigelow, grandson of one of the cemetery founders. A super-wealthy art collector, the younger Bigelow’s contributions make up the core of Asia collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Ray says. Like several on the tour, he was a friend of arts patron Isabella Stewart Gardner.
“He was a confirmed bachelor — that was the language of the time. He was never out and we don’t know of any lovers he had,” says Ray.