(Mostly) Vintage Images of Queer Visibility

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue: there’s a bit of everything on the queer” Flickr set, which focuses heavily on vintage images of the gay movement. Gwen at Sociological Images makes some interesting observations about the 1970s protest image shown above:

Given that since the anti-gay-marriage Prop 8 passed in California in November, many people have argued that a) the African American community is particularly homophobic and voted against the bill (so it’s Black people’s fault Prop 8 passed) or b) gay rights organizations have failed to reach out to the African American community and win their support (so it’s elitist gay people’s fault Prop 8 passed), both positions that imply that gay rights and African Americans are at odds, I found this photo from Philadelphia (in 1972) particularly striking as a reminder that African Americans often did and do support gay rights, and the gay rights movement has often actively included them… oh yeah, and also there are gay Black people.

There’s some fantasy mixed in with reality in this Flickr set, too. The set owner tacks amusing observations onto a 1918 Navy recruitment poster, digs up some lurid pulp covers and includes a lot of maybe-queer vintage portraits side-by-side with ones that are undeniably genuine. The set’s a wealth of information, too. The photos are lovingly annotated, so that you can branch off and start learning more. We’re introduced to photographer Grace Moon, dancer Alvin Ailey, comedian Wanda Sykes, and many more. There are hundreds of sets like this all over the web, and I can’t say what drew me to this one in particular enough to blog about it. But I think it’s the warmth. There are so many images here of people who look genuinely happy to be together, a glowing tenderness that runs through almost all the images collected here. At the end of the week – after that horrible “Storm is Coming” anti-gay marriage ad here in the states, and the recent reports of a wave of homophobia-driven murders in Iraq – it’s important to remember that the fight is far from over.

5 Responses to “(Mostly) Vintage Images of Queer Visibility”

  1. Nadi Says:

    That “storm is coming ad” really upset me! thank you for posting pro gay photos and writing this article. It was nice to see those heart warming images. I’ve been fighting for gay rights since I knew what gay was and it’s very disheartening to see anti gay adds being played for the public. But they are right, a storm is coming and you cant stop a storm, it’s natural beauty and power will come no matter what they say.

  2. Bobster1985 Says:

    Thanks so much for writing about my flickr set and your nice words about it! It’s always fun to get positive feedback. Bob

  3. cappy Says:

    Ah, I remember my navy days… three square meals a day and all the gay sex you can handle.

  4. Legba Carrefour Says:

    I just wanted to pop in and say how much I appreciate you running this. I usually feel a bit schizophrenic because I have to split my brain between my concerns as a radical who is concerned with race and gender and as a radical who is involved in alternative culture. I never get to see anything like this from alternative culture magazines or blogs and seeing reference to queer rights and anti-racism this visceral is pretty powerful and makes me really appreciate you cats all the more.

    I’d offer a solitary correction though: People of color weren’t simply present in the early queer rights movement. They were largely the ones at the front lines, mostly they were pushed out of mainstream feminist organizations.

  5. Legba Carrefour Says:

    mostly because I mean. whatever. I fail at teh typing.