between them a spark passed

One sailor feeds cake to another. Vintage, gay

Their eyes met with a singular directness of gaze. Between them a spark passed which was not afterwards to be distinguished, though neither of them knew the moment of its kindling…

 

Text: excerpt from ‘The Shuttle,’ 1907, Frances Hodgson Burnett
Image: photographer, subjects, unknown
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hand in glove

two men embracing in a vintage gay photo
Hand in glove, we can go wherever we please

And everything depends upon 
how near you stand to me

And if the people stare, 
then the people stare

Oh, I really don’t know and I really don’t care

 

Image: photographer, subjects, unknown
Text: excerpt, ‘Hand in Glove,’ the Smiths

 

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what if we got outside ourselves

 

vintage-gay-wavy-dcwooten-482

What if we got outside ourselves and there
really was an outside out there, not just
our insides turned inside out?  , not just
the waves off my own fire, like those waves off
the backyard grill you can see the next yard through,
though not well — just enough to know that off
to the right belongs to someone else, not you.
What if, when we said I love you, there were
a you to love as there is a yard beyond
to walk past the grill and get to? To endure
the endless walk through the self, knowing through a bond
that has no basis (for ourselves are all we know)
is altruism: not giving, but coming to know
someone is there through the wavy vision
of the self’s heat, love become a decision.


Text: Altruism, by Molly Peacock,
from Cornucopia: New and Selected Poems 1975-2002. 
Image: Photographer, subjects, unknown. 
Image used with permission by dcwooten/flickr 
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three questions

vintage-gay-men-loss-woolf-and-wilde-482c

What was it like to love him? Asked Gratitude.
It was like being exhumed, I answered. And
brought to life in a flash of brilliance.

What was it like to be loved in return? Asked Joy.
It was like being seen after a perpetual darkness, I
replied. To be heard after a lifetime of silence.

What was it like to lose him? Asked Sorrow.
There was a long pause before I responded:

It was like hearing every goodbye ever said to
me— said all at once.

 

 

Text: Three Questions, a poem by Lang Leav, ‘Love and Misadventure’
Image: photographer, subjects, unknown

 

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it is not always easy to love me

lesbian-women-embrace-482
I want you to know that it is not always easy to love me. That sometimes my chest is a field full of land mines, and where you went last night, you can’t go tomorrow. There is no manual, there is no road map, no help line you can call; my body does not come with instructions, and sometimes even I don’t know what to do with it. This cannot be easy. But still, you touch me anyway.



Text: Excerpt, ‘Missed Her’ by Ivan E. Coyote
Image: Photographer, subjects unknown
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we two keep together

vintage-gay-photo-swim-men-482
Shine! shine! shine!
Pour down your warmth, great sun!
While we bask, we two together.


Two together!
Winds blow south, or winds blow north,
Day come white, or night come black,
Home, or rivers and mountains from home,
Singing all time, minding no time,
While we two keep together.



Text: Walt Whitman, 1859
excerpt from ‘Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking,’
Image: Photographer, subjects, unknown
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he won’t tell you that he loves you, but he loves you

vintage-gay-men-car-482-kenneth-hill-2

You’re in a car with a beautiful boy, and you’re trying not to tell him that you love him, and you’re trying to choke down the feeling, and you’re trembling, but he reaches over and he touches you, like a prayer for which no words exist, and you feel your heart taking root in your body, like you’ve discovered something you didn’t even have a name for.


Text: Excerpt from ‘You Are Jeff,’ from ‘Crush,’
a book of poems by Richard Siken
Image: photographer, subjects unknown
(do you know who the photographer is?)


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he was not asleep

 

two men in bed, gay interest, vintage photo

After we retired and I was convinced by his poor attempt at snoring that he was not asleep, I gently placed by arm around his great manly form. This was enough. He turned toward me, placed his arms around my neck, pressed his lips against my own and — forgot to snore. For once I had met my match. We slept but little more, and the next morning when my brother asked him how he had rested, he glanced at me and said, “I never spent a more pleasant night.”

 

Image: photographer, sitters unknown
Text: Excerpt describing an encounter from 1895,
‘The Story of a Life,’ by Claude Hartland, the first known autobiography written in America by a self-described homosexual man.
Excerpted from ‘Love Stories: Sex Between Men Before Homosexuality’
by Jonathan Ned Katz

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when I had nothing else to cling to

man-carrying-another-osvaldo-vintage-gay-480c

 

[Your] name seemed like a wonderful gift to me. It seems so still. I have carried it for a long time, the most precious thing I owned. I spoke it rarely, so that it would not become tainted by my surroundings. I kept it buried deep inside, and when I had nothing else to cling to, with a single whisper in the dark I would name you, careful not to be heard and in doing so, something of you would be restored to me, and something of myself would be saved.”

 

Image: Photographer, subjects unknown; courtesy of Osvaldo, Men Together
Text: Peter Hobbs, ‘In the Orchard, The Swallows’ excerpt

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I’m not coming with you

Two affectionate men, gay interest, vintage photo

When the train comes,
you’ll see the light.
I’m not coming with you
but I’ll hold you tight.


Text: Excerpt, ‘Story,’ a poem by Honor Moore
Image: Photographer, sitters, unknown. via Sissydude/Tumblr

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