Partner Witter Bynner, Bronson M. Cutting

Queer Places:
Hill House, Halcyon, Oceano, CA 93445
Villagra Book Shop, 126 E Palace Ave, Santa Fe, NM 87501
Los Angeles National Cemetery Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA

Clifford McCarthy (December 17, 1904 - May 27, 1968) was a protégé of Senator Bronson Cutting. He supervised New Mexico Indian's relief program.

Clifford McCarthy was born in Kansas City, Missouri. In the 1940s McCarthy lived with Chester Alan Arthur, Hill House, Oceano, San Luis Obispo

In New Mexico, Phelps Putnam, one of Katharine Hepburn's early suitors, settled in with a predominately homosexual circle that included Senator Bronson Cutting, a Republican who would quite famously break with President Hoover over Depression-era policy; Witter Bynner, the modernist poet (who also became a friend of Hepburn’s); and Clifford McCarthy, Bynner’s young lover who soon switched his affections to Cutting.

Bynner threw some parties just for queers while others contained a mix of straights and gays. According to Bronson Cutting’s biographer, the closeted gay politician, New Mexico Senator Cutting, attended Bynner’s respectable parties, but still managed to meet other gay men. At one such party, Cutting stole Bynner’s boyfriend, Clifford McCarthy (Don).

In 1931, Bynner published Eden Tree a poetic musing about same-­‐sex love inspired by his old love, Clifford McCarthy, and dedicated to a budding new romance with Robert Hunt. Bynner declared his homosexuality publicly, a rare and brave act, when he published Eden Tree.

A literary gathering spot for homosexuals in Santa Fe was the bookshop Villagra. In 1921 Roberta Robey opened Santa Fe’s first bookstore within an existing stationery store located on a corner of the plaza across from La Fonda Hotel. By 1927, Robey moved the successful bookstore to a larger space in Sena Plaza and named it Villagra Bookshop after the conquistador poet. Robey sold Villagra to Clifford McCarthy in 1936 and for a time it was then owned and operated by gay men. Villagra served as a gathering spot where same-­‐sex desires were accepted. While not a gay and lesbian bookstore per se (as it did not stock only gay and lesbian materials), it functioned as a center for the flowering of queer community. At 4pm, the bookstore hosted a daily gossip and martini gathering (called “tea” time as a euphuism during Prohibition) serving mainly the literary community. Legend has it that writer Willa Cather and her longtime partner, Edith Lewis, visited while vacationing in the southwest in the summer of 1925, and that during the visit Cather settled into an armchair near a fireplace in the Villagra Bookshop to begin writing Death Comes for the Archbishop.

McCarthy died in Ramona, San Diego County, California.

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