NBC NEWS -- Marc Robert Stein, a History professor at San Francisco State University and author of the book City of Sisterly and Brotherly Loves: Lesbian and Gay Philadelphia, 1945 – 1972, is uniquely qualified to speak on that past and help paint a fuller picture of the world the men from the photos might have lived in. It is unknown, however, whether the men lived in Philadelphia, or whether the photos were taken there.
Stein notes, importantly, that it was legal for the drug store’s photography shop to turn the grooms away all those years ago, and it remains legal for businesses to do so today in much of the U.S.
Stein’s work helps bring into clarity the relationship between the LGBTQ community and commercial establishments in the midcentury, along with the challenges gay people faced from society at large and police in particular.
“We tend to associate beat coffee houses with San Francisco, but many American cities had them, and they were popular with jazz aficionados, poets, interracial couples and LGBTQ people,” Stein told NBC News of the popular gay gathering places at the time. “Many were targeted by police, like Humoresque, which was open right around the time Captain Frank Rizzo was beginning his political rise.”