Following death, individuals in committed same-sex relationships lacked legal authority over how their lover remains were handled. Due to the absence of legal marriage, their partners had no rights or influence, often resulting in the separation of lovers by surviving family members. There are 100s of examples of these sad separations during the height of the AIDS crisis.

Before the late 20th century, it was rare to encounter instances where same-sex couples were buried together. Alice B Toklas and Gertrude Stein were two Oakland girls who met and fell in love in Paris. They were part of the avant-garde Paris scene in the early 20th Century. They are buried together in Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris. Gertrude is on the front of the headstone, and Alice is on the Back. See images 1 and 2.

Another example is the story of Maude Adams, a renowned American actor born into a Mormon family in 1872 Utah. She and Louise Boynton were together from 1905 until 1951 when Boynton passed. Both women are buried at Cenacle Convent Grounds in New York.

We can explore online platforms such as Find-a-Grave, now under Ancestry’s ownership, originally designed for locating the final resting places of famous individuals but now hosting millions of memorials for people from all walks of life. Additionally, Billion Graves is another resource to aid in finding the tombstones of ancestors. Keep an eye out for clues in cemeteries and on these online platforms where same-sex couples may have been laid to rest together.

Gertrude Stein’s headstone in Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris.
Alice B. Toklas headstone in Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris. The opposite side from Gertrude on the same stone.
Maude Adams
Maude Adams, Wiki Commons.
Tombstone image added to Find-a-Grave site by Denis Svoboda and Anneabe on 10 Aug 2001. Memorial ID #8.