Uncommon Affections

Two Affectionate Gentlemen, Tintype
Two Affectionate Gentlemen, Tintype
Cross-dressed Women by Mattheson
Cross-dressed Women by Mattheson
Tintype, Two Affectionate Pals (Brothers?)
Tintype, Two Affectionate Pals (Brothers?)

After my recent find of that tintype showing two men holding hands, I thought I’d pull together a series of same-sex affection pictures. Turns out I have fewer than I thought. Thus the title, in part, and in part for the fact that the photos are more rare than you’d think on the one hand, and not as rare as you’d think on the other. In an era where same-sex attraction was only beginning to be named and understood as anything other than a moral failing to be treated as a crime, it would seem reasonable to assume images of affection between two people of the same sex would be virtually non-existent. Because, however, there was no concept of a homosexual person, the idea that expressions of affection between two people of the same sex would mean something other than friendship would have been alien and never enter into the mind of the average Victorian. And in an era where physical expressions of affection between the genders, in public anyway, would have been profoundly frowned upon even for a married couple, it is not surprising that there are few images of an affection that would not have been considered unmanly.

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