Robert, “Bob” Stuart was born in 1923, just three years after women in this country were allowed to vote. Originally from Shreveport, Louisiana. He served in the Navy during WWII, was honorably discharged in May, 1946, and lived a long and productive life as a civil servant in New Orleans. This during a time in the middle of the 20th century when identifying, or being identified as gay—or queer—could cause a dishonorable discharge from the military, strip you of civilian jobs, deny you housing, and ruin your reputation forever.
This event reflects upon the arc of Stuart’s life, the times through which he lived, and offers a tiny glimpse into correspondence from men who were his close and intimate friends, and one woman.
Letters and documents for this recording are from the Robert W. Stuart Papers, The Historic New Orleans Collection. Gift of Frank Perez, Acc. No. 2018.0225.
LETTERS READ is the ongoing series in which local performers interpret personal letters written by culturally vital individuals from various times and Louisiana communities. Performances are free and open to the general public.
Curated and directed by Nancy Sharon Collins, in conjunction with Antenna, each reading brings general audiences into intimate moments usually experienced while reading a personal letter from one whom one knows.
Major support for the 2020 programming season is provided by Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities,* LGBTQ+ Archives Project of Louisiana, Corner Foundation and Reba Judith Sandler Foundation. Over the last three years, additional support has been provided by The Louisiana Museum Foundation, Crescent City Books, Dorian Bennett Sotheby’s International Realty, Felicity Redevelopment, Inc., Friends of the New Orleans Public Library, Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival.
Since May 2017, this series continues to partner with many cultural institutions providing original source content and programming support. Examples are Goat in the Road Productions, Acting Up (in Acadiana), Alexandria Museum of Art, Louisiana State Museum, Loyola University New Orleans Special Collections & Archives, Louisiana Division/City Archives & Special Collections, Hermann-Grima+Gallier Historic Houses, The National World War II Museum, The Historic New Orleans Center Williams Research Center, Vorhoff Library Special Collections, and Bastion.
* The 2020 Letters Read Season is partially funded under a grant from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.