Love Behind The Curtain

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Our young man on the right, in 1934. Love those almost identical suits and those hairstyles!

Photoweigh photobooth photos are rare. Between the 1930s and 1970s when the last of these booths disappeared, there appears to have been only a handful scattered across the UK, Germany and France. Although a business called the American Automatic Photoweigh Company Inc. was registered in America, there does not appear to have been any booths operating there.

These English photos from 1934 and 1939, above and below, are even rarer than typical, holiday-souvenir Photoweigh images, as they show the same young man in two close poses with his male friends. There are many photos for sale online which purport to show gay or lesbian lovers. In most instances it is decidedly unclear as to whether the subjects are just pals or in closer relationships. However in this instance, I think it is safe to say the men pictured here are more than just friends.

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Again in 1934 but now on the left, in a joyful embrace.

At a time when homosexuality was still criminalised, taking affectionate same sex snapshots to a commercial printer, posed risks to what would have needed to be clandestine relationships. Without access to your own darkroom, photobooths were the only way to commemorate a gay relationship in private and with confidence. Photobooths created images without a tell tale negative or in the case of some Photoweigh machines where a paper negative was supplied with the finished positive, leaving no record in the machine.

Despite the happy and loving nature of these photos, there is a heartbreaking poignancy to them, given the prejudice and suffering endured by the same sex community at the time. The young man who is pictured in all three photos, looks a jolly type. I hope that translated into a fulfilling and happy life despite the obstacles he would have had to face.

You can read more about the history of this type of photobooth here, and see more Photoweigh images here.

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Five years later, a solo portrait.

29 comments
      • gluepot said:

        That’s very kind, thank you. I’ve been enjoying your blog for quite a while, albeit quietly.

        Liked by 1 person

        • But you have commented a few times on Facebook, if I remember correctly? Having said that it is highly unlikely I would’ve. My brain is a sieve! 😊

          Like

  1. oglach said:

    Great post with an ‘angle’ on photobooth photos I’d say not many have thought much about before. Very touching.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember you showing Photoweight photos before. I’d never seen anything like that. Well, they are lovers or super drunk. Love the last photo with the look on the guy’s face and the caption beneath.

    Liked by 1 person

    • God, I am so slow. It took me ages to get your joke! Yes, “Why not have it enlarged?”, would be a solution to his solo status whether or not he was gay. And I had not thought that drunkeness might be a reason for the affection and kissing. Always on the ball, you are. X X X ❤️

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  3. Very nice find! I didn’t know these existed and I love that every collector is so specialized we each have our very own special niche.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The best artists specialise and we are artists in our own way. Yes, these are very rare and it took me many years of collecting before I discovered them. They mostly are way out of reach for me. I was lucky to find these as a ‘buy it now’ very close to the time they were listed. I’m not sure about you and your collection Caroline, but I feel like the photos were lucky to find me, as much as me being fortunate to get them. They will stay together with me and not be sold off piecemeal to the highest bidder.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Léa said:

    It is so sad that anyone would have to deal with such discrimination. Long before my daughter came out, I was determined she would be surrounded by people who would love her for who she is. It meant letting go of the bio ‘family’ and building and embracing the real family! She has done well and recently published her first book and now clipping away at book two.

    Thank you for the history lesson. I shall send her the link.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Léa

      The discrimination is still there of course but we are definitely getting better. It must break your heart to hear examples of this. I hope your daughter doesn’t experience any.

      What type of books does she write?

      Thanks for your lovely comment and for sharing the post.

      Kate

      Liked by 1 person

      • Léa said:

        Hello Kate, you are, of course, right. While many things begin to improve (such a long road to go) there is still so much pain and disenfranchisement. My beautiful daughter is on her second in a trilogy of romances. Due to a change in publishers, her book is currently not available but that is suppose to be corrected soon. If she isn’t selling the publishers are not making money either so it should not be much longer. She has a three book a year contract and is so excited. For her now it is a whirlwind of book signings and author get-togethers and I am happy for her. She deserves it all. I know you read my little post Rainbows, Pride… and know that there are some special people that also would have celebrated with us. They too are missed. Thank you dear Kate for your kind comments and for taking the time to connect. I do hope to hear from you again. Léa

        Liked by 2 people

        • Yes, your post was sad, but also uplifting, Léa. It must be such an exciting time for your daughter! I have been lead to believe that book signings can be even more gruelling than writing! I do hope she has great success.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Léa said:

            She has already made friends with a number of the other authors and feels right at home. I just want her to be happy more than anything. She never ‘studied’ to be a writer but was always quite the storyteller so it seems a natural progression. Thank you so much. With love and rainbows! Léa

            Liked by 1 person

  5. I guess the poignancy lurks under the smile! But what’s more sad and rather revolting is that since 1930s still a lot hasn’t changed in many countries where such relationships are frowned upon and not just by the society but also by the judiciary and the present political dispensation as there is no legal repose when the law itself terms them illegal…… something that’s “deviant” and “against the law of nature” …… How can the judiciary or the executive or any man or organisation for that matter decide what is and what isn’t “against the law of nature”

    Liked by 2 people

    • I would say that it is entirely the law of nature for homosexuality to be able to exist in the first place. If nature’s laws had nothing to do with it, one wouldn’t be born that way. Yes, as you say there are many places where gay rights are nonexistent and even here in Australia the law is taking too long to remove the last obstacles to true equality. And of course homophobia is still rife in certain sectors of the community.

      Thanks for you thoughtful comment!

      Liked by 2 people

      • That’s true.. It is the law of nature in it’s entirety and if it wasn’t it wouldn’t have existed for thousands of years as it is also seen in the animal kingdom. But some bigots and homophobes who oppose it and call the LGBTQ members as deviants, term such acts as “against the law of nature” and anything that doesn’t lead to progeny or reproduction of another life. It was a thought that was propagated from religious heads as they feared that if more men in their faith would “turn” then there would be less kids being born in their faith and their idea of world domination and the biggest religion in the world would take a hit. Just to further their own vested interest and selfish goals they have been marginalizing a whole section of the society for thousands of years by calling them heretics, deviants, sinners and subjecting them to public humiliations and even state execution in some countries where this archaic and prehistoric law still exists. Really sad and a blot on humanity!

        Liked by 1 person

          • Thanks for your concern Kate…But knowingly or unknowingly, we’re all affected even if it doesn’t happen to us. If we don’t feel the pain seeing others suffer then I guess we aren’t evolved enough to call ourselves human!

            Liked by 1 person

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