The Photo Booth! (7) by SeanMartin ()
Members remain the original copyright holder in all their materials here at Renderosity. Use of any of their material inconsistent with the terms and conditions set forth is prohibited and is considered an infringement of the copyrights of the respective holders unless specially stated otherwise.
For many gay men in the 1940s up to the 1960s, the humble photo booth was more than just a place to get a strip of photos of yourself and your "friend". Once that cloth curtain closed, it was a safe little space, where the two (or more) of you could just be you, and the only peering eye was a camera's. Now, most of those images are gone, most no doubt because the subjects feared blackmail from the wrong people seeing them. And so, many of them were destroyed, leaving only a few tantalizing shots of happy people once in love.
Looking at them, it's easy to get swallowed up in the fantasy that these are all loving gay couples — and certainly, it's likely most were. Others, though, were straight men, military buddies, unafraid of showing a degree of affection after the horrors of war. So who in these photos were gay and who were straight? We'll probably never know.
The unfortunate thing is that this is like so much of our personal history: generations of history lost because of fear of what might happen should it fall into the wrong hands. And so we hear stories of a certain American president who had all of his letters burned upon his death, because the few that did survive, with their stories of "gentlemen going a-wooing", drastically rewrite the record on him and his chosen ambassador to France. And heavens above, we simply cannot have that!
And so who we were is consigned to the garbage bin, by historians afraid to change the narrative, as though admitting that a prominent world leader might have been homosexual is simply one step beyond the pale. But that just makes it all the more difficult to look at photos like these: to see our past swept away, hidden from public view... when all these people wanted was a safe little space, behind a curtain, where they could be themselves.