Diana Davies Recorded Early Gay Lib. Here Are Some Of Her Incredible Photos.


American photographer Diana Davies was one of the leading photojournalists of the gay lib movement during the 1960s and ’70s.

Her work covers an astonishing range of LGBT history, from early protests by the Gay Liberation Front to dances at the Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse. They were published in leading publications: The New York TimesLifeTime, and The Village Voice.

Many of her images are archived at the New York Public Library’s Digital Collections, which consists of black and white photographic prints. (Davies’ full collection at the library are on view here.)

The remarkable LGBT collections at the New York Public Library have at least 100,000 volumes and over 300 archival collections of LGBT historical content, including letters, manuscripts, photographs, posters, and other items.

We pulled a few color slides and negatives taken by the masterful Davies highlight to celebrate our rich past during LGBT History Month.

Gay Liberation Front March on Times Square, 1969



Gay People March for Rights, 1970


Gay “Be-In”, Sheep Meadow, Central Park, New York June 28, 1970


Gay rights demonstration, Albany, New York, 1971




Christopher Street Liberation Day, June 20, 1971

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Dance at the Gay Activist Alliance Firehouse, 1971



Sylvia Ray Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson, Barbara Deming and Kady Vandeurs at City Hall Rally for Gay Rights


Craig Rodwell and Mei-Mei Sanford at the Oscar Wilde Bookstore, 1969


Gay Liberation Front Pickets Time, Inc., 1970

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  • Sammy Schlipshit

    Aaaaah, the good old days when men had individual appearances rather than all the Ken doll wannabes of today.

    Men had hair. We looked like regular, normal males. There was variety, singularity, realness.

    I pity younger men these days. Few can live up to the stereotypical sculpted bodies that set the norm. Most will never achieve such looks but will constantly be pressured and expected to meet that standard.

    We were free to be our own selves. Sure, the Castro clone made an appearance but if any man regardless of body shape wanted to dress in the clone style it was completely possible. Just clothes, after all.

    What I see in these muscle freaks these days is a fact they spend a lot of time in gyms while the outside and real world just passes them by….and they don’t care.

    Put down the weights and pick up picket signs.
    How the hell do you young’uns think you have all the privileges you are enjoying?

  • Brian

    I look at these beautiful faces from the 1960’s and early 1970’s and think “wow, what pioneers, what true revolutionaries”. There is also an immediacy in their facial expressions that recalls the excitement of a budding social movement, the beginning of a wave, the rumbling of a tremor that is to expand into an earthquake of a social movement.

    However, I wonder if they knew that their precious movement would eventually decay in the way it has today, where gay-identifying men spend hours worshipping the female body in the form of drag queens and Lady Gaga, not to mention transgenders and an assortment of oddballs called inter-sex.

    To me, it’s like watching something beautiful at the beginning turn into something awful.

  • Brian

    @Sammy Schlipshit: Ha, I noticed that too! The men then had various hairstyles and – shock, horror – body hair!!! Today’s gays are shaved all over. Walk into any gay bar in town and all the men have identical cropped hairstyles.

    The thing back then was individuality. It was the catch-cry of the 60’s, and was reflected in the way people looked. Today, everybody wants to look the same. Everybody wants to conform. Everybody wants to be corporate.

    Welcome to the world of conformist gay guys. Everybody wants to be the same, look the same, have the same views… and the same pair of hair clippers.

  • Brian

    I feel so passionate about this issue, I’m compelled to write a third consecutive post. Today’s queens have no idea – repeat, NO IDEA – of the revolutionary and courageous positions taken up by the men of the 1960’s. Today’s gays are comfortably numb living their ignorant, distorted, conformist lives.

    Today’s gays are more interested in saying “I’m going to that dance party in Brooklyn” instead of “I’m going to that protest in Central Park”.

  • ErikO

    Are any of these people still alive?

    Bisexual people started gay/LGBT pride they were Brenda Howard, and Stephen Donaldson but the homosexist biphobic media that also practices bisexual erasure does not always mention this.

    @Brian: Yes a lot of gay men are extremely conformist these days. No surprise there.

  • ralphb

    I’m still here, Erik. I wasn’t in New York, but here in St. Louis. I sometimes envied them, as we drew smaller crowds of folks. But then, this was, and is, a more conservative area. I know what the others mean about all the gay guys looking and acting the same. And, for the most part, they are not educated in what happened before they were born. That is both good and bad, for they can live as they want, for the most part, but I fear that if they don’t learn about the past, we could possibly revert to it in the future. Vigilance must always be foremost in our minds.

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