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Friday, April 9, 2021


Lyle Frisby took this photo of Hank Evans and Ed Haley in 1956, around the time he was imprisoned for distributing frontal male nude photos.  Click the label to learn more about Mr. Frisby.
We must never forget those who paid the price for our right to view these photos.

 

7 comments:

  1. I have never been able to establish the exact date when male photographic nudity became an offence. Initially - as with the internet - photography was completely without legal restrictions, albeit that contrary to the received wisdom, the Victorians were in fact far less bothered about nudity in what to the values of the day were deemed to be appropriate places. There was a lot of nude and semi-nude male photography. It was succeeding generations that did that. Britain was a unitary state when liberalization finally came in the early 1970s. I would imagine that in the USA, State as well as Federal law came into play. Perhaps the slide into censorship happened incrementally.

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    1. The repression seems to have become pronounced after World War II when several photographers began distributing frontal male nudes in volume through the mail, or post as you would say. I think there was a rising tide of gay phobia along with the communist scare at that time. A lot of men got exposed to homosexuality activity during the war and discovered they liked it.

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    2. Indeed. The 1930s and '40s were far kinder decades. The Cold War unleashed two decades of increasing paranoia, and the repression on this side of the pond was exacerbated by the Cambridge Spies scandal when Philby, Burgess and Maclean, Blunt and Cairncross were gradually uncovered as Comintern agents who had spied for the Soviets over decades and notably during the war. John Cairncross was the only "sexually traditional" among them. Donald Maclean was married but would engage in homosexuality when drunk. Guy Burgess was a notorious homosexual whose social position protected him and Sir Anthony Blunt, an art historian and Cambridge University don, appointed personally by King George VI as Surveyor of the King's Pictures, was also homosexual, this known to Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother), who had a tremendous liking for and tolerance of gay men, counting many in society as personal friends. Philby was straight, but extremely promiscuous, with five marriages - at one point, in Moscow, stealing Donald Maclean's wife. Burgess and Maclean defected to the USSR in 1953. Fearing exposure, Philby defected from the Lebanon in 1961. Blunt was given immunity from prosecution for "state's evidence" but was exposed in 1979 by Margaret Thatcher in the House of Commons as the long-speculated Fourth Man and was stripped of his knighthood. The upshot of all this was that, whereas in the USA, homosexuality in the 1950s was increasingly viewed as a psychiatric disease, the British Establishment viewed it as a social disease, attracting misfits, dissidents, the disaffected and disloyal - and potential traitors. As a result of their legacy of treason, gay men were increasingly persecuted with a viciousness rarely known outside the historical religious internecine fighting in British culture. It was this hysteria that made the lives of gay men a hell on earth and led to the suicide of war hero Alan Turing, whose genius had broken the German Enigma codes, after his complaint to the police of petty theft by a sexual partner and his sentence to avoid imprisonment of chemical castration. (I use the term "homosexual" here because these men would not have identified as "gay" in our modern understanding of sexuality.) It makes for a sick, sordid and squalid litany of societal abuse that must never be allowed to return.

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    3. The scandals involving Philby, et. al. are probably the best example of how crazy this whole subject became. And don't start me on what they did to Turing. Thanks for posting.

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    4. Comstock Act had existed before then. Basically you had to buy such things at news stands who kept them hidden.

      At the same time, this is the era of nude swimming, of the circle jerk.

      And of course, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female was a huge scandal; only modern conservatives treat the original, male volume with the same opprobrium. For them, all sex outside of marriage was to be repressed, but by the 1980s, they'd carved out an exception for hetero males to be frankly lawless. (Also, Frank Lee Lawless is now my porn name.) This is why you get movies like Porky's and Revenge of the Nerds, where the protagonists are rapists and voyeurs.

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  2. It's a shame a man was imprisoned for creating such wonderful art. It's a shame that we, while we no longer censor such photos, have become so ridiculously prudish and paranoid in our lockerrooms. I don't know if we will revert to censorship, but if these pseudo-Chriztians succeed in taking over, it would not surprise me if it happened. Be prepared, brothers.

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    1. I agree that freedoms won can be lost. Vigilance is important, as is responding to threats.

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