The Pillow Fight

by Philip Wilson Steer

9th:

[CLAUDE CAHUN]

I really want to emulate this for Halloween, but think .02 people would understand it. Hurumph.

(via eatstarchmom)

Aubrey Beardsley, 1898

Dora Stroeva, killing the dapper game as usual, in Vogue Paris, 1924

Dora Stroeva, killing the dapper game as usual, in Vogue Paris, 1924

the-uncensored-she:

Vintage Black Lesbian Pride

the-uncensored-she:

Vintage Black Lesbian Pride

(via countessgeschwitz)

Pouty young poet Aleksey Apukhtin, 1860. A boy wonder from noble stock (he memorized all of Pushkin by age 10), Apukhtin was snuggle buddies with Tchaikovsky in college, and may have helped shield his friend when, decades later, the gay-friendly Chautemps restaurant was raided and its high-powered patrons - save Tchaikovsky - exposed in the press. Apukhtin’s reputation never recovered from the outing, but apparently, since he also introduced Tchaikovsky to the woman who would become his “wife,” he was able to use his wealth and power to help keep the gay lives of his friends hidden.

Then and Now, 1907

One of many media depictions of the gay panic that swept through Germany at the turn of the last century. From the brilliant essay Iconography of a Scandal: Political Cartoons and the Eulenburg Affair

Time to break out the “reckless speculation” tag! The above pinky ring bearer is Australian writer (Alfred Hitchcock brought two of her stories to the screen) and British Liberal Party politician Helen de Guerry Simpson. Helen co-wrote three novels with known deviate Clemence Dane, and, after a late marriage, had a daughter she named Clemence in tribute to her “best friend.” I mention this only because she pinged so hard to me and I don’t want to think my gaydar has failed. (Though I admit to playing “butch or Australian?” the same way I play “gay or German?” This is when I’m not struggling with “baby butch or teen boy?” on the daily.)

Eva Le Gallienne is dreamy in Camille, 1932

Friedrich Alfred Krupp, German steel baron, contender for the crown of kraziest Krupp, and victim of an outing campaign so vicious he allegedly took his own life. 

In the heady days before his downfall, Krupp had run of the island of Capri, developing a stunning property where he “entertained” young Italian men in decadent orgies- string quartets, fireworks and gold jewelry were involved. Read all about it in this highly entertaining article at Chicago Now. (Many of the original Italian press missives can be found here, if you get carried away by the story and want to spend an hour with Google Translate and a cup of tea, like I just did.)

Explorer and diplomat Stewart Perowne, 1939

photo by Howard Coster

After he started working for them, the British government thought it wise that gay ‘ole Stu get married, so in 1947 he proposed to his brilliant coworker Freya Stark. They were hitched, time passed, and after a while Freya started wondering why they had yet to sleep together. (“I think you have left something lying between us, untold. Whatever it is, it will not make me think less of you or care less for you.”) Stewart wrote her a letter of explanation:

It is difficult to say what “normal” is – my friend a counselor of St. George’s Hospital always refuses to use the word and in both men and women, you have a wide and grade range from ultra-male to ultra-female with naturally most people in the middle ranges… Now for myself, I put myself in the middle group. I have ordinary male abilities. I like males sports, some of them, and I love the company of women. In fact, I find it hard to exist without it. At the same time, I am occasionally attracted by members of my own sex – generally. For some even pleasurable reason – by wearers of uniform.

The union lasted five more years.

Actor and playwright Rodney Ackland, 1936

photos by Howard Coster

Ackland’s 1952 play The Pink Room (also known as Absolute Hell) is a hidden gem of post-war British disillusion featuring, among it’s 21-person ensemble cast, a smattering of gay characters including a film producer (and his comely young manseverant), a brittle lady critic, a dress designer and the alcoholic writer who loves him, plus a gang of American soldiers up for anything. The play was soundly panned (one critic described it as “a libel on the British people”) and forced Ackland into semi-retirement and decades of depression which lasted until he died, understandably bitter, in 1991.


New Drums, 1960

The above photo from right-wing Italian newspaper Il Borghese illustrated an article that helped kick off a gay panic which shook Italy at the dawn of the ’60s. The right wing press decided to turn a minor story about a rash of cruising busts in the town of Brescia into a nationwide witch-hunt, ending in trials, false arrests, the questioning of several popular celebrities and at least one suicide.
Nicknamed “balletti verdi” (a play on the then-recent “ballet roses” ordeal, and a wink at Wilde’s carnation), the scandal prompted hysteria so massive that mothers were encouraged to show their young sons photos of buxom women, discourage them from doing housework, and burn any books dealing with vice to help keep their boys on the heterosexual path. Brescia was nicknamed “faggot city,” 200 people were prosecuted, the Catholic church got very excited, and when dear old Giò Stajano, the only openly gay celebrity in Italy at the time, was called in for questioning (literally only because they were out) they appeared dressed as a woman in mourning, knitting a black garment to show contempt.
The scandal, while ruinous, marked a major change in the way Italians perceived homosexuality. The double omerta enforced by Catholicism and deep class fractures had kept many Italians from ever mentioning that the possibility of same-sex attraction existed; the conversations prompted by the scandal helped open many eyes to the possibility of another, gayer way of life.

New Drums, 1960

The above photo from right-wing Italian newspaper Il Borghese illustrated an article that helped kick off a gay panic which shook Italy at the dawn of the ’60s. The right wing press decided to turn a minor story about a rash of cruising busts in the town of Brescia into a nationwide witch-hunt, ending in trials, false arrests, the questioning of several popular celebrities and at least one suicide.

Nicknamed “balletti verdi” (a play on the then-recent “ballet roses” ordeal, and a wink at Wilde’s carnation), the scandal prompted hysteria so massive that mothers were encouraged to show their young sons photos of buxom women, discourage them from doing housework, and burn any books dealing with vice to help keep their boys on the heterosexual path. Brescia was nicknamed “faggot city,” 200 people were prosecuted, the Catholic church got very excited, and when dear old Giò Stajano, the only openly gay celebrity in Italy at the time, was called in for questioning (literally only because they were out) they appeared dressed as a woman in mourning, knitting a black garment to show contempt.

The scandal, while ruinous, marked a major change in the way Italians perceived homosexuality. The double omerta enforced by Catholicism and deep class fractures had kept many Italians from ever mentioning that the possibility of same-sex attraction existed; the conversations prompted by the scandal helped open many eyes to the possibility of another, gayer way of life.