A Photographic History of Men in Love with Hugh and Neal
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Episode · 10 months ago

A Photographic History of Men in Love with Hugh and Neal

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Today on Pride we chat with Hugh Nini and Neal Treadwell, a couple of nearly 30 years and the creators of the photo book “Loving: A Photographic History of Men In Love, 1850s-1950s.” They open up about how they started collecting old photographs of people in love, their collecting parameters to determine the subject’s relationship, and the unique stories they’ve come across since publishing “Loving.”

Be sure to order "Loving" now! Your host is Levi Chambers, co-founder of Gayety. Follow the show and keep up with the conversation @Pride. Want more great shows from Straw Hut Media? Check out or website at strawhutmedia.com. Your producers are Levi Chambers, Maggie Boles, Ryan Tillotson and Edited by Silvana Alcala Have an interesting LGBTQ+ story to share? We might feature U! Email us at lgbtq@strawhutmedia.com. *This podcast is not affiliated with Pride Media. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Straw hut media. Love is love. It's a phrase used often by the LGBTQ plus community to unite people under the same idea. It doesn't matter who you love or how you love, love is love. This is exactly what uniny and Neil Treadwell showcased in their book loving, a photographic history of men in love. It began with one photograph found in an antique shop in Dallas, Texas, dated somewhere around one thousand nineteen twenty. It depicts two young men embracing and gazing at one another, clearly in love. Then a second photo came to them through an online auction, presented in a small art deco glass frame with yours always etched into the glass. It shows two soldiers from the s posed cheek to cheek. None of the men in the photos were given the opportunity to be married to each other. For most of them, loving each other was a crime. Fast forward more than a hundred years. These couples are being given the opportunity to be celebrated, not ridiculed. Today we chat with Hugh and Neil all about how they started collecting photographs. They're collecting parameters and the unique stories they've come across since publishing. Loving I'm Lea by chambers, and this is pride. Hugh and Neal have been together for nearly three decades. They both grew up in Texas, but while Neil embraced his southern roots and worked in the cattle industry, he was pursuing something a bit more classical. I've been a ballet dancer and ballet teacher for the last forty years, maybe a little bit more, and currently on the faculty in New York here at Jafford Ballet, and I coach privately as well. After Neil spent some time working in the Rodeo circuit, he decided to switch gears...

...and pursue a career in the arts. When I went to college I went to work for a clothing store and it was all coatur clothing, which kind of change my whole life, putting me in a different aspect of a world that propelled me, I guess, into cosmetics. Went into cosmetics in the well, I guess I could say, the mid S and fragrances, and then on through color and my last positions with Bobby Brown and bar centrals. I was over education artistry globally for the companies. One day, while wandering around an Antique Mall in Dallas, Texas, the couple discovered something that would change their lives forever. So we were just killing some time that afternoon and Neil came across a box with some random photographs and old photos. We kind of separated when we were going through the Antique Mall and this one booth I walked into I found this box, she was saying, and I'm flipping through it and there were a photos of homes that look like our neighborhood and Dallas, which till that was not great. But at the very back there was a photograph of two guys that were embraced one from behind the other and just really sweet looks on their face. And so I'm running through the Antique Malt to show Q and we said we kind of we got have this, we got to, you know, save it from you know, whatever is going to happen to it or, you know, probably thrown away, and so we went up to the checkout stand and we put it at the bottom of the pile so that the person checking us out wouldn't see it, thinking that they might think it was, you know, as interesting as we did and the consciously said five dollars and we walked out. So I mean that was probably the cheapest photo we've ever purchased our life. The photo was special to kneel and Hugh for a few reasons. One, it was amazing that a photo featuring two men so obviously in love would have been taken in the first place. And too, they felt so lucky that, regardless of where the photo came from, it had somehow ended up in Texas for them to find.

We've never, we have never seen him until that point. Male relations ships depicted in that way, romantically, to people who are in love with each other sexually. We seen a lot of that. There's a lot of historically. That's been well documented that romantically emotionally. No, we haven't seen that before. We never expected to find a second one. As luck would have it, hugh and Neil discovered another photo just a few months later. Soon two photos turned into money, which turned into two hundred. But even with a growing collection, hugh and neal didn't see themselves as collectors. We just thought we were finding things that needed to be preserved. How unlikely that they should, you know, have lived this long. And we got to put them in a safe or something like that make sure they last beyond our lives if possible. We didn't tell any of our friends, any of our family, which were very close with both, that we were doing this. We were kind of embarrassed about it. Honestly. There was never even a conversation between the two of us. Is So and so I was coming over, we're going to visit family, we show them this album of photographs. Never a conversation. We just never did it, never talked about it. But about thirteen years into it, we did start to understand that we had acquired something substantial and that it felt too important for just the two of us to be looking at it, and so we started brainstorming ways to share the collection. We didn't want to throw it out on the Internet because that's it's just not the way to do it, and eventually became a book. Their book loving, a photographic history of men in love, is a visual narrative that showcases unpublished photos of male partnerships taken during a time when these relationships were illegal. At this point, I think we're about three thousand three hundred. When we published the book it was a few less than that and in the book are three hundred and fifteen that were selected by us, our publisher and the designers who put the book together for us. Their collection isn't limited to just the United States. They have images from Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, France, Japan, the UK, you name a place, they probably have a photo from there. But what do they look for in an...

...image before it makes it into their collection? We look for that unmistakable look of love and two guys eyes. So therefore it's not like we're looking at any specific class of people or any genre or any you know, whether there any uniform anything else, age does that matter? What we've collected is, you know, just what we've found out out in the public and so there are collecting parameter for us, as always been, that we need to when we look into a photograph, sometimes the embrace or the kissing or something like that would it's in dead give away what you're looking at. Sometimes it's more subtle. In some photos the chemistry between the two men is obvious. They might be kissing or embracing, which makes it very clear that they were in a romantic relationship. But if you see a photo in the collection and your first thought is no way these two, they're just good friends. You might want to go back and look one more time. Sometimes it's two men standing side by side and one man has his foot on top of the other man's foot and they have this funny look on their face, like you see if you can find it, or whatever, something like that. But so there are some subtle hints. When he says the couple has a funny look on their face, he's talking about love. What will always appear in the photographs is this unmistakable look of love that people have on their faces when they fall in love with somebody. It's not a look that you can hide if you're feeling it and it's not a look which you can manufacture if you're not feeling it. So it's all we consider it to be genuine when we see it in a photograph, and that that's what guides are collecting. The photos that you and neil are collecting come from a very specific timeline between the eight s and the N S. But, Hugh says, within that timeline there's a period where the men seem to be more careless and more affectionate than the rest. There's some very outward displays of romantic love between the men that looks uninhibited...

...in any way, and those photographs tend to fall between the s and the S. not before that and not after that, but the the displays of affection and romance and love are very outward and also often include family members or friends and allies. You would think the photos would only get better, right, men would become more and more comfortable in their sexuality as time went on. Nope, that's not the case. What our collection has revealed to us is we have that we have the same thought in the beginning. These photographs are amazing because it was so much worse back then. Actually, that's not entirely true. I mean it's much better today, but it's also much worse back then. They didn't have the Anti Gay Industrial Complex that exists today and as well funded, and people draw a paycheck every day for hating gay people. That's their job description. Hey Gay people, and work at it full time and there are lots of organizations that are fully committed to that and it's a national campaign in the United States and around the world and it's a national issue legally, socially and so forth. That did not exist back then. So while it wasn't ideal to be in love with someone of the same gender, back then there was. There was some tacit acceptance. It was kind of like we live and let live. Maybe not always, but collection reveals to us that they're that did exist and this other thing did not exist. You know that because history. After finding their first photo, Q and Neal continued to stumble upon these meaningful photographs everywhere they went. My job in cosmetics took me traveling all of the United States and if I were spinning a weekend outside of Dallas there, even in Dallas, I would go to that low landing store just kind of walk around and see what they have. We also went to a couple of brocants or we cons and but here there's twenty six and sixth street. There's an Auntie New York here and in the here in...

...the Ortho. We're not in Textis, but we would come up to New York and they had just a little weekend of antiques out there and there was one guy who only had photographs and we found a couple in his stash that he had, but they were never labeled like here's gay photos or here's he was yeah, the box of the vote of everything. Well, they were a little more explicit that. We got yours holders there. That's right, we did. We collected a wonderful photo. It's up to soldiers and a glass frame and etched on the glass says yours always, yours are all, yours always, are all, always. But it was doing that and then going international and going to antique stores and then there's, you know, some photography fair fairs that happen here in New York and in Dallas and abroad, and then we've connected with several people there. We have right now reached out to and connected with photography or photograph dealers from around the world, from Russia Estonia, five in Russia, three in Bulgaria, couple in Serbia, couple in Croatia, one in Stony evention and then dotted around Europe. Another criteria these photos have to go through before they make it into their love book is what you and Neill call a fifty test. When we look at the photograph, we have to believe that they're at least fifty percent likely to be in a romantic relationship. That being said, we have very few in the collection, in zero in the book, while we have one in the book. He's a reason for it. When they came across a photo of two soldiers smiling in uniform. There was nothing in their posture that screamed were together, but they had this look in their eyes that says we're a couple and we are in love with each other, and so we've got them because they weren't expensive. When they brought the photo home, they ultimately decided that it didn't...

...pass the fifty test, so it wasn't going to be included in the book. They actually ruled it as is zero percent, but then they found another photo of the same two men that confirmed their initial suspicion. This is a couple that was in love with each other, though they are embracing in the Alps in Kisro, Austria. Both photos ended up in their book, which definitely plays off the whole don't judge a book by its cover phrase. But, like many of the photos Hu and neill come across, they didn't know any more of the story until a German book ended up on their doorstep. When we come back the tragic love story of two German royals and the gay American soldiers who almost saved their lives. Welcome back. Today we're chatting with Hugh Niny and Neil Treadwell, the couple behind the book loving a photographic history of men in love from the s to the n S. before the break, Hugh and Neal introduced us to the faces of the soldiers featured on page one hundred and ten of their book. It was a memorable story for the collectors because they found not one but two images of the same couple. What are the odds? But what really set them apart from all the others is that Hugh and Neil had the opportunity to put names to the faces in the photos. When the president of Southerby's in reremony read their book, He noticed something familiar about the two soldiers. He sent Hu and El a note and a book that would help add some contact to the photo. The book was called Lao, and Mlao is the hunting resort for the German royals all the way from the s to the Mid Nineteen mid twenty century, and he wrote he put two sticky notes inside. So what did hugh and neal discover? Well, for one thing, the soldiers are from Texas. What are the...

...odds of that? One is longing texts, the others from Dallas, salice right, and they fell in love during basic training at Camp grewer and Oklahoma. They were then sent over to fight in Europe and they fought all across Germany and the forty two infantry division, which is named the Rainbow Division. How Ironic. It's not for that reason because it was way before the rainbow became the symbol, but it was. It was named that because in this division there were men from all of the United States. Most divisions were from one city or one town or one specific area, that this was a collective across the United States. And General Douglas Macarthur, who's famous, and after the after World War One, named at the Rainbow Division because what Neal just explained, because they were from all over the place there from everywhere. So Rainbow and it was reconstituted in night in the S to fight in World War Two. So the Rainbow Division is actually very famous because it liberated doc out concentration camp on April twenty nine. Nineteen forty five. Their division would had fought almost all the way across Germany and they were approaching the town of Dachau and two American reporters from that were in the town at the time and the civilian intercepted the Rainbow Division, cut them off and said don't go into the town, follow this road into the forest, and they did, and where they found the unspeakable horrors of doc Ou concentration camp. This concentration camp opened in southern Germany in nineteen thirty three. It was initially intended to hold political prisoners, which is why two German royals were sent to the camp because of their homosexuality. This was the German royalty was dethroned or hold from power after World War One, but they still have their titles and so forth. And within that family were two men that were not related, but they were both German royals, and that's Prince Friedrich leiupold and Prince and Baron Fritz Erini, and they are documented throughout this book as an openly gay couple. They are...

Romant, romantically linked from their late teens all the way up to when they were sent to doc Ou concentration camp in nineteen forty four. So here's here's where they intersect with our soldiers from World War Two, John W more and Dariel John, and Dariel liberated doc out concentrator, helped build liberate doc how concentration camp on August twenty nine nineteen forty five. Five days earlier, the prince, the Baron, the Prime Minister of Austria and other high value prisoners rounded up and driven out of the camp to be shot before a fiveing squad. So they missed the liberation by five days. Hugh and Neal connected with John's nephew a few years ago and from him they learned more about what became of the soldiers after the war, John and Dariel. We don't know what became of their relationship. What we do know is that before John returned home he was diagnosed with muscular dystrophee. He'd started to fall down. You know, two years after World War Two and the one thousand nine hundred and forty seven or forty eight, he was confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life and we got he tells us that his uncle, in his early s asked him at some point handed him a shoe box, didn't even say what was in it, said and a ring and said please keep these safe for me, and we would carephrase that to please keep the safe after me, because two years later John passed away from his muscular disf he lived a lot longer than anyone expected him to. The nephew went off to college, met his wife, married, they raised three sons and at some point with them the last ten years, he went I wonder what's in that shoe box and opened it up and there were all these pictures of his uncle and his uncle's boyfriend, his rainbow scarf for his dress uniform and some documentation of our call what they were. But we now have about a hundred fifty photos of John and Dariel and their intersection with dot co concentration camp, or photos of them there and the liberation of doc out five days too late for the prince...

...of the Baron. As for Dariel, Hugh says he got married and had five children. Then he became a court stenographer and he did that for many years until he passed away in the early s. We don't know what became of their relationship, though. I realized there's a lot of sadness in this story. So if you're looking for a light at the end of the tunnel, here it is. Alan burrewby wrote a wonderful book called coming out under fire, Alan Baruby describes this is this is how world the military dealt with gay soldiers during World War Two and afterwards. The book describes the two battles many lgbtq plus soldiers were facing at the time of World War II, the first one being for their country and the second being for their own survival as homosexuals against the military. And one of the GAY soldiers that they talked about in the book was sent to doc concentration camp at who shot down over Italy, and he was liberated by John and Dariel's UN at the Rainbow Division in the mid eighteen hundreds, there were a few ways a couple could take a picture of themselves. Luckily, none of the methods were very expensive. The first method was to hire someone to take a tin type, which is kind of like the polaroid of the mid eighteen hundreds, and so this would give anyone the opportunity to a fair or at a circus of church, that the guy would come in it. Actually the photographers were you used in the civil war. So that's where this happened, because you didn't have any film that could be destroyed. It was a piece of ten that had been coated with a substance and then when it was opened up, you know, the negative, the the camera shutter was opened up, the image was transported onto that emment, onto the plate, and then then we go to the dark room and it would be process there. So within fifteen minutes someone would walk away with a ten type photograph and one of a kind, no trace of any...

...anything that someone could find out if there was a romantic glance or something at it, but it was very inexpensive. And then there was the photo booth. That was very inexpensive as well, and so you would step into a photo booth and not only read the subject, which you were, also the photographer and the processor and you would walk away with your images there. So that was very inexpensive for someone. And then, starting around the S, photography got the game and expense at the paper type photography, because photos were inexpensive to take and usually came with a degree of secrecy. Hugh and neal were able to include a wide range of social classes in their collection, but the same could not be said about race. In the very, very beginning, when the book first launched, we had a lot of a lot. The only bad reviews we got were mainly pertaining to the lack of diversity and people of Color in the book and while we certainly appreciate and and understand the sentiment, we didn't do this on purpose. But our collection landed in the century between the S and s. So start there. You know, it's in the US, and the US is has had, has still has a terrible problem with racism. Started up with slavery, which is abomination, and so the people of Color didn't have a lot of access to anything in the United States during that century. They didn't have access to education and in that access to, you know, good stores are the vote, and now we're seeing that all again. So unfortunately, the period that our collection covers, it's very discriminatory and excluded people of Color broadly. We've collected every single photo of an African American couple or interracial couple that we've come across for twenty one years now and out of three thousand three hundred photographs, that numbers about ten...

...or eleven or twelve or something like that. It's very few. The photos just aren't out there. We'd have them if they were. Like I said, we've collected all all that we've come across. It was around the nineteen hundreds when photography studios began to pop up around the US. Young men would shave, comb their hair and put on the nicest suit they owned in order to come in and have their photos taken, and then at the them there would be this prop. It says not married, but willing to be, which means hey, ladies, I'm not married, but I'm willing to be married to you. Ladies. It was kind of like their way of creating a profile on a dating APP. They were saying, Hey, I'm looking for a wife. Year's what I got to offer. So this young couple, they look like they're in their teens, late teens, probably had the self awareness to be photographed together as a couple and then to go a step so much further than anybody was thinking during that time and hold up that prop that was for a single man, hold it together and say we're not married to each other, but we're willing to be. The photo was taken a hundred years before the first same sex wedding ceremony would take place and decades before conversations even started around the topic. Talk about woke and they had the oppressions in the self awareness, to think of themselves in terms of being a married couple, which I think is absolutely astonishing. And it's sort of this photograph is sort of becoming the iconic image of the book and possibly of the entire collection. The last photo that made it into Huan Neal's favorites from the collection uncovered a relationship between two famous artists. It's a beautiful photograph. It actually it's like Bruce Weber could have taken it, and I mean it's just gorgeous. And this one what makes it special. I mean it's the the artistic layout of it and everything and to think that, you know, some this was a novice taking this photograph. It was, you know, a friend...

...of theirs, but it's just the way it's cropped and everything going on the photograph makes it a piece of art. The Guardian in the UK published a feature on Human Neil's book. Just like the photo of the two soldiers, someone recognized the faces in the portrait after reading the article from the Guardian. So they reached out. So you know, they reached out to us. Are like absolutely, you give them our information, we'll talk to him and he identified the two guys. The one handsome guy on top with all the hair as Rupert Brook who is a famous poet, and the one below him is Duncan Grant, who is a famous artist, both from the UK, and it's if it's not them, it's their twin. We've you know, you can see the ones that you're and see Rupert Brooks ear and it matches perfectly and it's spot on. We've had two people since then emailis and say the same thing. What's interesting about it is, number one, the beautiful romanticism between the two of them is just really out there. And the second thing is this is before you throw them was famous. They're very young in this photograph. They're not the famous Oh poet or the famous artist. They're just two guys and they belong to the bloomsberry group, which was an artist colony during that time, en up through fairly recently, I think it existed, and so which means there could be a very famous photographer who actually did take the photo that was in the group. When Hugh and neal decided to try insformed their side project into a book, they had no idea the impact it would have. We hope Fivezero people would would like the book. And what's happened since the launch of the book was just so much greater, so much bigger than anything the two of US could have possibly imagine. We've come to understand our collection and its message better from publishing it than we did before we published it, although I think we had a pretty pretty good grasp that it needed to be out there somehow. But yeah, the response has been...

...just off the charts, off the charts, whether it's through someone reaching out to us on instagram or facebook or sing as an email talking about what the book means to them and and who they've given it to. And we did a limited edition where people could dedicate the book to someone of the top personal with thousand and we found that there were mothers and fathers buying it for their kids, kids buying it for their parents, grandparents buying it for their grandson and for his engagement, and we would rattle of notes for them. We had a few of people in their seventies that reach out to us and said if only I had this book when I was growing up to show that I could have had that love and I hope it's not too late for me. You know, sorry, it just it's still the the emails and everything we get there very personal and extremely testiment and and just pulled your hard strings, and so we've kept them all because that's a story within itself on what this book is meant to so many people. Because when when we've had as many straight people purchase it as gay people. In fact, in the beginning the remorse straight people that purchased it because that it's two men, it's secondary. The message is about love and when they see it and they go through it, they just there. As I showed it to my little brother, who's married, has two kids, and the minute he saw he's like, Oh my God, that's love. I mean just kind of screamed it out. And you in people just share that message. Throughout all of this, finding that photo, finding out the finding all of the other photos tucked in nooks and crannies and, you know, secondhand stores and online and auctions. What did you learn about love and the meaning of love throughout this process? That...

...it's universal. You know, the love between two men is the same between two women, a man and a woman. It's we all feel it the same way. Yeah, it's a man. Male couples feel the same love. That male and female couples feel, and female couples feel the same love that everybody else feels. It's the same love and the we go one step further to say this love doesn't have a sexual orientation. It is experienced differently by people. Love Different sexual orientations experience the same way by all. But it confirmed our understanding of our collection that this is universal everybody that sees and understands it for what it is and are really moved by it, because we've never been depicted this way before by we, I say male couples who are in love with each other. We go out of our way not to describe the subjects as Gayer or homosexual. We don't have those pictures. We have pictures of two people who are in love with each other. After seeing the effect of their collection with their first book, Hugh and Neal are already planning on releasing another book. I mean they have the photos at home to make it so why not? We're planning on doing one. It's going to be loving the military edition or loving men in uniform, because of around twenty twenty five percent of our collection is men in uniform from around the world. Wars that US followed in didn't bide in from the civil war through the American civil war, Americans that were up through one thousand, nine hundred and fifty. That's where cutoff and and then we'll go from there. I mean there's opportunities for other books that there's still interest after that, but we're hoping that this book will launch in two thousand and twenty two, in October, which would be two years from the launch of this one, because we're right now where we just hit our going into our fifth printing on this and it's in five...

...languages. If you're looking to pick up a copy of human neils book, which you definitely should, here's where to go. Well, there's two kinds of copies and the limited sign numbered dedicated limited edition one through thousand. There only twelve of those left and that's a loving onezero dot org. It's only twelve out of the One Tho. Then sure you can also get a sign retail addition at the same ohnel address we've started selling on the website at loving one thousand dot Org. And then, you know, we always like to say by local when you can. Our Book is in many independent book stores around the world. And then we're in some the larger chains as well, and then the big boy Amazon. Fall else tales go to Amazon, but we do try to encourage people to support their local book stores. Although Barnes and noble is always out of stock, it's just probably a good sign. Yes, they definitely not sitting on an inventory. Pride is a production of Straw hat media. If you like to show leave us a rating and review on Apple, podcasts, spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts, then follow us on Instagram, facebook and twitter apt pride and tune in weekly for new episodes. Be Sure to share this episode with your friends and subscribe for more stories from Amazing Queer people. If you'd like to connect with me, you can follow me everywhere, at Lea by chambers. Pride is produced by me, me by chambers, Maggie Bowls, Ryan Tillotson, caitlyn MC Daniel and Brandon Marlowe, edited by Silvana I'll Calla, and Daniel Ferrara, sound mixing...

...by Silvana I'll Calla. When we've made this book we'd probably had around twenty seven hundred photographs. Now we have over thirty three hundred. There is a second book that is possibly in the making it it is. It sounds like you're about a thousand photos in.

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