Lost home videos were discovered by Geoff Story, a filmmaker from St. Louis. Telling Nancy Fowler from St. Louis Public Radio he explained that he stumbled upon them 20 years ago at an estate sale of the Buddy Walton.
Walton often referred to as St. Louis' "hairdresser to the stars", including Eleanor Roosevelt and Ethel Merman if they happened to pass through St. Louis, but was also known for having lavish pool parities at his home.
“These men are still in their 20s in the sun, swimming, like they always will,” Story says. “There’s a real sweet pain, and when you watch it, there’s a happiness but you can’t believe it’s so long ago and you can’t touch it–it’s gone.”
Finding the footage inspired the idea for a documentary, which lead Story to set out and find gay men who were alive in the 1940's and talking to them about their experiences and lives. Story's new film Gay Home Movie, which he is currently working on, give us a rare look into an invisible world when LGBT individuals were forced to love and live in the dark. His documentary has already sparked the interest of gay Hollywood exec Brain Graden. “It speaks to a wide array of people on a very deep level,” Graden tells Fowler. “What are the chances someone would go to an estate sale and pick up these canisters of old footage? It’s almost like these men are trying to talk to us from beyond the grave.”
h/t: St. Louis Public Radio
Believe it or not, there was a time that if you wanted to meet someone you had to actually go to a bar and start a conversation. Long before social app sites like Grindr, Adam4Adam, Scruff, the interaction between two gay men could be told by the hanky code or “flagging”. This was more prevalent during the 60’s and 70’s in the leather and BDSM to covertly signal their sexual interests; this was at a time when being gay could get you arrested, beaten up or fired (one can still be fired for being gay).
In the past 10 years this method has somewhat fallen by the wayside; however, in the leather community, you can still find men that will flag their back pockets. I never understood the hanky code until I became more involved in the leather community, and trust me I asked questions. I found it fascinating that what originated in the 60’s and 70’s was still around. However, you can understand why it still exists; for some, it might be the tradition of the past, and for some, it might be the mystery of using one. Either way, it is a fading practice.
This history of the handkerchiefs is very interesting and while it is believed to have originated in New York City, in fact, it is based on a San Francisco tradition that date backs to the mid-1800. They were commonly used in the American West by cowboys, miners and rail engineers. When gold was discovered in 1848 the style was carried on by prospectors that flocked to California. In 1846 San Francisco’s population was about 200, however, after the Mexican-American War, the population would explode to roughly 36,000. But the percentage of the population were mostly men; therefore, men were forced to dance together at social, with some men wearing a blue bandanna to show that they were assuming the male leading part in the dance while others wore red bandannas to show they were taking the female following role in the dance.
It is a tradition that has seen many changes, but the basic colors and meaning will never change. Especially within the leather community. J. Franklin
The modern use by gay men appears to date back to the early 1970’s when a journalist for the Village Voice joked that instead of using keys on the left or right pocket to indicate top or bottom in the bedroom – the prevailing custom of the time – instead, men should use colorful handkerchiefs that could be used to signal more specific interest.
Many variations still exist, but the following from Larry Townsend’s 1983 book The Leatherman’s Handbook II (2nd edition) seems to be the most commonly followed for the core colors. Here are a few examples:
Since then there are have been several variations with regards to the color of handkerchiefs for example; white = racists, gray = boring, baby blue = mother issues, pink = ingrained homophobia, and mustard = you drink too much. So it appears that like anything in life the hanky code is changing to meet the different terms of the gay community as it expands to include more within the community. Regardless of how you feel, the past meets the present and move forward to the future. It is these traditions that define our culture and allows us to express ourselves in different and unique ways.
GLBT Historical Society Archives & Museum. Archives & Research Center. San Francisco, CA. Online. 19 July, 2017.
The Village Voice. Archives. New York City, NY. Online. 19 July, 2017.
Images: istockphoto.com. Purchased for commercial use.
June is officially gay pride month, and for many communities around the country and world we come together to honor the past, live in the present and fight for the future. It is easy to forget how much we as culture has had to overcome in order to live our lives as we see fit.
Gay Pride is a time for us to come together and celebrate life in general. To show our pride in not only ourselves, but also to remember the past, those in history who give up so much so we could hold hands in public, and even get marries. There was a time that being gay (homosexual) was a crime, and the punishments could range from prison to inhuman medical procedures. Several countries around the world have legalized gay marriage, and removed laws that prevent us from being ourselves, however, for many they still struggle to just have basic human rights.
So, as we get out flags and banners, we should be thankful and supportive of our community!
Here is a timeline provided by infoplease that put together a timeline of the gay rights movements in the United States.
The Society for Human Rights in Chicago becomes the country's earliest known gay rights organization.
Alfred Kinsey publishes Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, revealing to the public that homosexuality is far more widespread than was commonly believed.
The Mattachine Society, the first national gay rights organization, is formed by Harry Hay, considered by many to be the founder of the gay rights movement.
The first lesbian-rights organization in the United States, the Daughters of Bilitis, was established in San Francisco in 1955.
The Daughters of Bilitis, a pioneering national lesbian organization, is founded.
Joe Cino, an Italian-American theater producer, opens Caffe Cino. Caffe Cino is credited with starting the Off-Off-Broadway theater movement. Six years after Caffe Cino opens, it hosts the first gay plays, The Madness of Lady Bright, by Lanford Wilson, and The Haunted Host, by Robert Patrick.
Illinois becomes the first state in the U.S. to decriminalize homosexual acts between consenting adults in private.
The world's first the transgender organization, the National Transsexual Counseling Unit, was established in San Francisco.
The Stonewall riots transform the gay rights movement from one limited to a small number of activists into a widespread protest for equal rights and acceptance. Patrons of a gay bar in New York's Greenwich Village, the Stonewall Inn, fight back during a police raid on June 27, sparking three days of riots.
The American Psychiatric Association removes homosexuality from its official list of mental disorders.
Harvey Milk runs for city supervisor in San Francisco. He runs on a socially liberal platform and opposes government involvement in personal sexual matters. Milk comes in 10th out of 32 candidates, earning 16,900 votes, winning the Castro District and other liberal neighborhoods. He receives a lot of media attention for his passionate speeches, brave political stance, and media skills.
San Francisco Mayor George Moscone appoints Harvey Milk to the Board of Permit Appeals, making Milk the first openly gay city commissioner in the United States. Milk decides to run for the California State Assembly and Moscone is forced to fire him from the Board of Permit Appeals after just five weeks. Milk loses the State Assembly race by fewer than 4,000 votes. Believing the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club will never support him politically, Milk co-founds the San Francisco Gay Democratic Club after his election loss.
Activists in Miami, Florida pass a civil rights ordinance making sexual orientation discrimination illegal in Dade County. Save Our Children, a campaign by a Christian fundamentalist group and headed by singer Anita Bryant, is launched in response to the ordinance. In the largest special election of any in Dade County history, 70% vote to overturn the ordinance. It is a crushing defeat for gay activists. [Read More]
Source: "The American Gay Rights Movement: A Timeline." Infoplease. Sandbox Network, Inc., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2017.
Images: Grey Villet. Gay Rights - Early Days of The Movement 1972. Time Magazine.
So, when I think of archives throughout the world the National Archives of the United States, Library of Congress, the Library of Vatican City and the many archives in universities and colleges throughout the world. So when I heard of the LGBT + Archives of Louisiana I was intrigued about what type of material that was collected, where this information was stored, and who would have access to the information.
I began wondering after I attended a fundraising event for the LGBT + Archives of Louisiana and thought that it was a unique and interesting endeavor I requested an interview with Frank Perez, President of the archives, and I walked away with a greater appreciation of the work that he and many involved do for the LGBT community.
“The purpose of the archives is to promote and encourage the protection and preservation of materials that chronicles the culture and history of the LGBT community”. To collect material that tells a story; this might include periodicals, books, journal articles, pictures, films and other related documents. Another important aspect of the work that they do is help individuals preserve documents and assist anyone to include in their trust and/or will the donation of materials.
It’s important that we preserve the cultural aspect of our daily lives, and while we think of archives as a storage for old material, this isn’t the case for the Archives Project; they want to include material old and new. To provide a directory of resources that can be accessed by researchers and the public; and to help provide financial resources that assist in the preservation of all LGBT material.
Individuals such as Prank Perez, Samantha Bruner, Erick Wallace, Steward Butler, Mark Gonzalez, Leon C. Miller, Rip Naquin, Wayne Phillips, Jessica Troske, Grey Sweeney Perkins, Jeanne Brooks, and Annie Peterson all work together to help raise funds, and awareness of the impertinence of the Archives Project, educate the public and allow future generations access to the history of the LGBT community in New Orleans.
The LGBT + Archives of Louisiana are located at area libraries that have committed themselves to the preservation of the LGBT culture:
Amistad Research Center, Tulane University
Earl K. Long Library, University of New Orleans
William Research Center, Historic New Orleans Collection
Louisiana Research Collection, Tulane University
Louisiana State Museum
Monroe Library, Loyola University
Newcomb Archives, Tulane University
New Orleans Public Library
Like all projects this cost money, and throughout the year the LBGT + Archives of Louisiana hold various fundraising events. The money goes directly to the preservation of important documents, and helping keeping the documents safe. If you would like more information about the LGBT + Archives of Louisiana Project visit their website, you can also make a donation at: lgbtarchivesla.org.
Image: Purchased Photobucket, 2015