LGBTQ Heroes: Monroe Wheeler

The gay man who played a key role in the development of American queer identity.

LGBTQ Heroes: Monroe Wheeler

Monroe Wheeler was an American publisher and museum coordinator.

Life

Wheeler was born in Evanston, Illinois in 1899. He met Glenway Wescott who was to be friend or partner for the rest of their lives in 1919. In the 1920s Wescott and Wheeler were working in Germany and France.

With an inheritance from his family, Wheeler bought a small printing press, and with Barbara Harrison, established Harrison of Paris, specialising in limited-edition books; they published in total thirteen books, including two works by Wheeler’s partner, Glenway Wescott. In 1934 they moved the press to New York City.

In 1935 Wheeler was employed by New York’s Museum of Modern Art. He was on the Library Committee and in three years he was Director of Membership and the following year Director of Publications. In 1940 MOMA created the role of Director of Exhibitions and Wheeler was the first person to hold the post. In 1944 he became one of MOMA’s Trustees and later he sat on the Executive Committee, the Exhibitions Program Committee, and also the Coordination Committee. After the war in 1948, Wheeler was leading the Exhibitions and Publications, the outreach programs and the library.

For over ten years, photographer George Platt Lynes had a relationship with Wheeler and Glenway Wescott. Another of Wheeler’s lovers was Christian William Miller.

When Lloyd Wescott, Glenway’s brother, moved to a farm in Union Township in 1936, Wescott, Wheeler and Lynes took over one of Lloyd’s farm’s houses and named it Stone-Blossom. In 1959, when Lloyd Wescott acquired a farm near Rosemont in Delaware Township, Hunterdon County, New Jersey, Glen Wescott moved into a stone house named “Haymeadows” on his brother’s land.

In 1987, Glen Wescott died of a stroke at home. Wheeler died in New York City in 1988, but his ashes were buried with Wescott at Haymeadows.