Vintage Photos: Drag Queens From the 1960s and 1970s

‘The Gay Essay’, an art exhibition currently running at the de Young Fine Arts Museum in San Francisco, takes a look at gay life in California from 1969 to 1973 with an amazing series of black and white photographs by photographer Anthony Friedkin.

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Image Credit: Anthony Friedkin

These photographs give a glimpse into the lives of drag queens following the violent demonstrations of the Stonewall riots in New York City, which occurred in the early morning hours on June 23, 1969.

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Image Credit: Anthony Friedkin

‘The Gay Essay’ exhibit at the de Young Museum opened on June 14th to commemorate the 45th anniversary of this historical event.

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Image Credit: Anthony Friedkin

“Friedkin followed his own trail when making the essay,” Julian Cox, exhibition curator, told Slate Magazine. “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.”

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Image Credit: Anthony Friedkin

In an essay accompanying the exhibit opening, Cox further explained: “To conjure its spiritual and emotional core through photography. He was most interested in men and women who were trying to live openly, expressing their sexuality and a burgeoning sense of personal freedom, and improvising ways to change the culture.”

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Image Credit: Anthony Friedkin
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Image Credit: Anthony Friedkin

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Related: New York Drag Queens From The 1980s