Around the same time queer factions in America’s largest cities began forming what we know today as the modern LGBT rights movement, a 19-year-old California photographer named Anthony Friedkin began documenting the process through the lens of his camera.
The photos Friedkin shot roughly from 1969 until 1973 have become known as “The Gay Essay”, his first of many compelling projects that captured moments in gay history, more specifically the lives of drag queens, out gay men, and LGBT fixtures at the dance clubs and street corners where they once gathered.
Some of Friedkin’s finest photos are being displayed over at Slate this week, in honor of the “Anthony Friedkin: The Gay Essay” exhibition now showing at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. For the piece, exhibition curator Julian Cox gives his take on Friedkin’s work:
“Friedkin followed his own trail when making the essay. It’s not a mathematical analysis or State of the Union of gay life at the time. That’s one of the reasons why I find it so interesting, because it blends both historical documentation and specificity, but it is also this very personal body of work. There’s a lot of intimacy in the pictures, a lot of connection with the subject matter.”
Below, check out some of the most interesting vintage snaps from Friedkin’s “The Gay Essay”, on display now until January 11, 2015.
Still have an itch for vintage gayness? Check out our Rare Photo Collection Documenting 1960’s Drag Culture Unearthed In Kansas City, vintage gay news clips from the ’70s, and Haunting Photos Of Gays Cuddling A Century Ago.
All images by Anthony Friedkin, via Slate, courtesy the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.