A Photographic History of Men in Love

Hugh Nini and Neal Treadwell began their photographic collection on accident, stumbling upon some vintage images at an antique store in Dallas, Texas.

The gay couple found an image that reflected their own reality, two men in embrace, but taken decades and decades earlier, when homosexuality was not just frowned upon, it was basically illegal.  They took it upon themselves to start a collection of such images, and have amassed over 3,000 of men in love, ranging in dates from the mid-19th century to the Second World War.

This collection has now been published in the book “Loving: A Photographic History of Men in Love, 1850s-1950s“.

We’re struck by the bravery and honesty in the images, and can imagine the fear or trepidation of having a photographic record of such love, when most of society was disapproving and outright hostile to gay culture. See more on CNN Style:

Two young men hold a pre-printed sign, approximately 120 years ago, proclaiming their bond and willingness to be legally wed to one another.

A cabinet card with one man seated in another man’s lap.

“This book means, for the first time, that these people, these couples, get to speak for themselves,” Nini said. “They couldn’t do it when they were alive, but they can do it now, and I think that’s really powerful.”

Postcard of two men seated on a “man in the moon” backdrop circa 1910.

An undated photo of two men in bathing suits alongside a boat.

Two men kissing in an undated photo by the seaside.

Two men of color in uniform photographed together, dated 1951.

Men in uniform photographed with their arms around one another.

Undated photo strip of two men who appear to be blue collar workers.

Two men embrace behind the caboose of a train in this undated photo.

Men embracing in hats, photo undated

Two men lounging on the grass together