‘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.
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.
‘The Gay Essay’ exhibit at the de Young Museum opened on June 14th to commemorate the 45th anniversary of this historical event.
“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.”
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.”
Related: New York Drag Queens From The 1980s