Friday, August 23, 2019

Newly Uncovered Photos of 1957 Gay Wedding Spark Investigation


A story on the BBC's website about an roll of photos depicting the wedding between two young men has become my latest obsession. Based on what we know, the ceremony took place in 1957 in the Philadelphia area and for whatever reason, the developed images never made their back way into the owner's hands. 


The BBC writes: 
Now, a trio of gay producers and writers are trying to identify the grooms to learn their story and to find out whether a pharmacy employee balked at providing the snaps because they objected to their subject. The writers are documenting their efforts in a reality show "The Mystery of the 1957 Gay Wedding Photos."  
The program, which doesn't yet have a platform to call home, is being produced in conjunction with Endemol Shine Group, whose shows include "Big Brother," "The Biggest Loser" and "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." 
"It's a passion project for us," says Michael J. Wolfe, a Los Angeles-based writer. "We are turning over every stone, interviewing dozens of people in the Philadelphia area and beyond, and consulting with investigators, historians, and experts across many different fields." 
The photos were acquired by a collector a few years ago who had bought them at an online auction. He realized their significance and donated them to ONE Archives at the USC Libraries in Los Angeles and at the Wilcox Archives in Philadelphia. 
The couple in the pictures appear to be in their 20s or 30s, so they would be in their 80s or 90s if they were alive today. The grooms and their guests are dressed up in dark suits with flowers in their lapels. 
What's so remarkable about these images is how unremarkable they are -- they look nearly identical to my parents' 1959 wedding, which also had a modest reception in a family member's home -- other than the fact that it's two men.. I can't help but dwell on how much seeing something like this as a youth would have meant to my development.

Just the other weekend I was marveling that my best friend's niece got married to her girlfriend -- with the entire family proudly looking on -- like it was the most normal thing on earth ... which it is. All I could say to myself is: What a difference a generation makes. These photos, much like Stu Maddux's "Reel in the Closet" documentary about LGBTQ home movies, help mend my heart, knowing that despite the difficulties, queer people did find ways to embrace their love.


Please check out these sleuths' website HERE and Facebook page HERE and let's get this mystery solved! (Discretion guaranteed to all tipsters.)

1 comment:

jaragon said...

This is a fascinating story

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