Menu

InstagramTwitterYouTubeFacebookSnapchat
Globe Icon
Join and support LGBT+ journalism

Join

and support
LGBT+ journalism

US

Do you recognise the gay grooms from these lost 1957 wedding pictures?

Reiss Smith July 29, 2019
Two grooms looking at each other lovingly

(ONE Archives at USC and the John J. Wilcox, Jr. Archives at the William Way LGBT Community Center)

The search is on for two grooms who appear in an album of lost wedding photos dating back to 1957—decades before the introduction of equal marriage.

A series of black and white images show the happy couple gathered in front of their nearest and dearest—exchanging vows, cutting cake and sharing their first dance.

Sadly the men never saw their wedding photos, as they were confiscated by the owner of the store where they were taken to be developed.

Only recently have the photos resurfaced, as it emerged they were taken for safekeeping by an employee who kept hold of them until her death.

Two grooms kissing
(ONE Archives at USC and the John J. Wilcox, Jr. Archives at the William Way LGBT Community Center)
Two grooms cutting their wedding cake
(ONE Archives at USC and the John J. Wilcox, Jr. Archives at the William Way LGBT Community Center)

“My mother had a somewhat photographic memory for faces and retained these in the event the customers who dropped them off ever came back to the shop so that she could give them to the customers on the sly,” the woman’s daughter wrote in a letter to the ONE Foundation, an LGBT+ group in Los Angeles.

After they were found, the images made their way to the ONE Archives and the John J. Wilcox, Jr. Archives in Philadelphia. The two bodies have been searching for the grooms—who are estimated to be in their nineties—to no avail.

Little is known about them, other than a rough date (1957) and location (North Philadelphia), though researchers believe there are a number of clues in the images.

The grooms are surrounded by a number of other men, including one who appears in drag, suggesting that they worked in an industry where homosexuality was accepted.

Guests at a 1957 gay wedding
(ONE Archives at USC and the John J. Wilcox, Jr. Archives at the William Way LGBT Community Center)
A man in drag in 1957
(ONE Archives at USC and the John J. Wilcox, Jr. Archives at the William Way LGBT Community Center)

“Drag only happens in community and is done with other people who also do drag,” John Anderies, director of the Wilcox Archives told The Philadelphia Citizen.

On Thursday (July 24) it was announced that a team of filmmakers are to join the search, with a docuseries investigating the mystery of the 1957 gay wedding photos.

“We are drawn to stories of bravery, where these men lived out their lives under threat of danger or actual harm,” writer and producer Neal Baer told Deadline.

“We owe them our deepest gratitude because they did something no one else had done before them: they recorded their love for themselves and for posterity.

Gay couples dancing at a wedding
(ONE Archives at USC and the John J. Wilcox, Jr. Archives at the William Way LGBT Community Center)

“Now 60 years later, we have the photos, but there’s a painful gap between the past and the present. How did these pioneers live their lives as a couple? What barriers did two men married in the ‘50s, when the legal repercussions were severe, face?

“What drove them to take the bold chance to develop these photos when sodomy laws prohibited gay sexual relationships?

“Their legacy empowers us today and we are setting off to find these men and their stories.”

More: gay wedding, Same-sex wedding

Click to comment

Swipe sideways to view more posts!

Dismiss

Loading ...

Close icon