Saturday, December 27, 2008

To Harvey

Finally saw MILK last night in a movie theater in the City Across the Bay-- Oakland, CA. While feeling some regret that I didn't see it at the Castro, I realized that it's just another sign of progress: We Are Everywhere. By the end of the film I heard lots of sniffling and saw plenty of teary eyes.

Still smarting from the passage of Prop 8, Milk's story, told and acted so beautifully, gives us strength and inspiration. Yes, it gives us "hope." Harvey may not have been resurrected but there's no doubt his spirit lives on.

And so we offer this vintage black and white photo by Crawford Barton as a tribute to Harvey Milk and his comrades.

It shows a smiling Larry Lara (Barton's lover) standing nude with the city of San Francisco as a backdrop.

It is both a personal and a political statement. And there's no doubt that Harvey, who had a keen sense of drama and an eye for male beauty, would have appreciated it.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Men Showering Together

A great photo, sold yesterday on eBay for a hefty $620. Pretty good price for an anonymous 8" x 10" photo with damage from a paper clip near the top.

The appeal is obvious... a bunch of naked guys showering together.

They all turn their backsides to the camera. Nice butts. Skin glistening. Soap dropping... well one can imagine.

But there's something very strange going on when you look a little more closely. Is it a double exposure? An elaborate Photoshop trick?

The guys in the foreground don't seem to be part of the same image. They look like they've been superimposed or layered on top.

The man on the right who is either taking off or putting on his underwear has a semi-transparent shoulder. The guys on the left... what the hell are they doing, just watching? Doesn't that seem a little, uh, gay?

And what's going on in the room itself? It doesn't look like a barracks, or a gym, or a bath house. Shower heads dangle from the lofty ceiling where a couple loose boards might come crashing down at any second. The whole steamy scene is artfully illuminated. You can almost hear the water dripping.

This photo raises a lot of questions and provides few, if any answers. Maybe that's why it was such a hot item. Or maybe just any old photo of a bunch of naked guys showering together sells for 600 bucks these days. I dunno, but will keep my eyes open.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Gay Interest

If you've spent anytime looking for homobilia on eBay the most common label you'll see is "gay interest." It's applied to just about any photo of a man. Two men in the same photo: "gay interest" no matter how disconnected they are.

If one man lays a hand on another's arm or shoulder, well you can be pretty sure that gay collectors will go ape-shit for it.

Or so eBay sellers hope. If there is such a thing as gaydar it can be directed at photos as well as people. Very few photos of men together are actually of "gay interest."

So what does this photo reveal? Two well dressed, cigar smoking men pose for a formal portrait. There is but one chair. The man on the left (call him Peter) sits on the others' knee. The other man (call him Albert) puts his right arm around Peter and holds him closely.

Gay interest? Absolutely. These guys are comfortable with each other. There's a matter-of-fact quality about their physicality, an intimacy you rarely see between two straight men. But that doesn't make them gay.

We can actually identify these men. Peter Aardahl on the left, Albert Aardahl on the right. Brothers. Farmers in North Dakota. Their photo was taken between 1912 and 1920. Before straight men learned to worry about being mistaken for gays. Now that's gay-interest.