Tag Archives: gay affection

Gay History: Love And Affection: Vintage Photos Of Gay And Lesbian Couples

A couple’s photographic portrait is an affirmation of their relationship. It states for all to see: “We love each other. We care for each other. We are proud of who we are together.”

During the Victorian era many gay and lesbian couples proudly expressed their love for each other in studio portraits. Unlike the common belief that such relationships were “the love that dare not speak its name,” as Oscar Wilde so famously described same sex attraction in his poem “Two Loves,” gays and lesbians often dared to show their love. Indeed, many gay and lesbian couples more or less lived openly together throughout their lives. This was far easier for women than for men as women were expected to live together if they were not married, or to live with the euphemistically termed “female companion.”

Men, no historical surprises here, had their own haunts for meeting like-minded souls. In London these could be found in the “Molly houses” and gentlemen’s clubs or pick-ups haunts at Lincoln’s Inn, or St. James Park or the path on the City’s Moorfields, which was charmingly referred to as “Sodomites Walk.”

Theaters and circuses were also well-known dens of homosexual activity—this can be traced all the way back to Elizabethan England, when male prostitutes plied their trade at theaters.

The armed forces, in particular the Royal Navy was notorious for gay relationships—understandable with all the horny seamen looking for any port in a storm. Apparently word got around.

It is a moot point that the change in public attitude towards homosexuality commenced with the Labouchere Amendment to the Sexual Offences Act in 1885, which “prohibited gross indecency between males.” This was the law under which Wilde was infamously prosecuted and the law that heightened discrimination against gays.

Before that there had been the Buggery Act—against anal penetration and bestiality—which was introduced during the reign of Henry VIII. This led to numerous executions (hangings) and imprisonments. It was briefly repealed, then reinstated by Elizabeth I. However, there were few prosecutions under the act and it was repealed again in 1828—though “buggery” remained a capital offense. James Pratt and John Smith became the last two men to be executed for buggery, in 1835.

The Labouchere Amendment outlawed homosexuality and made it more difficult for gay men to live the lives they desired. Labouchere did not include lesbians in the act as he believed drawing attention to lesbianism would only encourage sapphic desires amongst most Victorian women.

So even when gay relationships were outlawed in England, they still thrived in open secret. In America, the sodomy laws varied from state to state. What one state tolerated or had no opinion about, another state punished. However, as with England in the Victorian era, America gay and lesbian couples would often openly express their love for each other in portrait photographs.

This collection of beautiful, brave people gives us a small visual history of LGBT relationships from the 1860s-1960s. Many of the couples are unidentifiable, but where possible their names have been given. (Editor writes: Mild disclaimer: Of course it’s difficult to say that in all cases these photos are of gay couples.)

Reference

Advertisements

Gay History: Photos Of Same-Sex Couples From The 1880s – 1920s

Vintage Gay Love: A Look Back At The Early Gay Pioneers in Photos

The following is a photo tribute to gay couples from the late 19th century and first half of the 20th Century. It is a testament to the early pioneers of the LGBT movement who have made the world a more accepting and compassionate place for everyone today. It is also a reminder that homosexuality has been around since the beginning of mankind and is not something which can be legislated back into the closet.

England, 1875

Unknown location, 1880’s

New York, 1900

Unknown, Early 1900’s

Europe, 1906

New York, 1907

“A friend of mine found this old photograph in a shoe box in his Grandmother’s attic. On the back was written… Aunty Mary and her “friend” Ruth, 1910. I wonder if those quotation marks imply what I think they do, by the look on their faces, I would say they do”

Unknown, 1912

Unknown, 1914

Unknown Lesbian Couple, 1915

WWI couple, England, sometime between 1914-1918

California, 1923

Unknown, 1925

Unknown

Unknown

Unknown

Source: Flickr / gaytwogether.com / and are the property of their owners.

Reference

A Photo Essay of Male-To-Male Affection: 1800s-Mid 1900s.

These beautiful photos of men showing affection to other men do not necessarily denote their sexual orientation. Because of the photographs age, and the lack of information about these unknown people, we do not actually know if they are gay, friends, brothers or relatives. But the lack of knowledge about each photograph does not detract from what are quite obvious, intimate relationships, and a daring – for the period – lack of restraint.

Where possible, references & attributations have been given.

Curtesy Matthew’s Island of Misfit Toys
Curtesy Matthew’s Island of Misfit Toys
Curtesy Matthew’s Island of Misfit Toys
Curtesy Matthew’s Island of Misfit Toys
 

Curtesy of Homohistory.com
Curtesy of Homohistory.com
Curtesy of Homohistory.com
Curtesy of Homohistory.com
Curtesy of Homohistory.com
Curtesy of Homohistory.com
Curtesy of Homohistory.com
Curtesy of Homohistory.com
Curtesy of Homohistory.com
Curtesy of Homohistory.com
England 1875: Curtesy Adrian Garcia gailygrind.com
Curtesy Adrian Garcia gailygrind.com
New York 1900: Curtesy Adrian Garcia gailygrind.com
Europe 1906: Curtesy Adrian Garcia gailygrind.com
Curtesy Adrian Garcia gailygrind.com
New York 1907; Curtesy Adrian Garcia gailygrind.com
WW 1: Curtesy Adrian Garcia gailygrind.com
1912: Curtesy Adrian Garcia gailygrind.com
1914: Curtesy Adrian Garcia gailygrind.com
Curtesy Adrian Garcia gailygrind.com
California 1923: Curtesy Adrian Garcia gailygrind.com
1925; Curtesy Adrian Garcia gailygrind.com
Curtesy Adrian Garcia gailygrind.com
Curtesy Adrian Garcia gailygrind.com

Curtesy Adrian Garcia: gailygrind.com
Curtesy Adrian Garcia: gailygrind.com
Curtesy Adrian Garcia: gailygrind.com
Curtesy Adrian Garcia: gailygrind.com
Curtesy Adrian Garcia: gailygrind.com
Curtesy Adrian Garcia: gailygrind.com
Curtesy Adrian Garcia: gailygrind.com
Curtesy Adrian Garcia: gailygrind.com
Curtesy Adrian Garcia: gailygrind.com
Curtesy Adrian Garcia: gailygrind.com
Curtesy Adrian Garcia: gailygrind.com
Curtesy Adrian Garcia: gailygrind.com
Curtesy Adrian Garcia: gailygrind.com
Curtesy Adrian Garcia: gailygrind.com
Curtesy Adrian Garcia: gailygrind.com
 

Tim Aldernan (2017)