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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Tom Bianchi's Fire Island Pines Polaroids


Those of us of a certain age remember the period of 1975-1983 as an era when gay men began to culturally assert themselves and become an open part of the American social scene.  Free love, 
discos, trips to the beach, Gay Liberation meetings, and so much more were part of our lives, and 
Tom Bianchi recorded some of this in a series of Polaroid photos he took on Fire Island.  And then AIDS happened.  Today we go back to a carefree time on the verge of a catastrophe that left us 
stronger, but with such awful losses . . . too many in my life for me to even list here.  
 

 

8 comments:

  1. Now I fully understand why a friend of mine loved going to Fire Island every weekend over the Summers.

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  2. If Tom Bianchi captured Fire Island at that particular carefree moment in history, it was Andrew Holleran's astonishing, ground-breaking and exquisite, poignant and honest novel, Dancer from the Dance (1978) that explained it. It has been said that Evelyn Waugh's 1945 novel, Brideshead Revisited, portrayed the relationship between the young Charles Ryder and Sebastian Flyte "so beautifully, it made one want to cry" and Holleran's masterful prose made Dancer from the Dance our Brideshead. The story begins on Fire Island, which features throughout the story: "Witty people came out in autumn; beauties in July." Andrew Sutherland, one of the more flamboyant characters at one point arriving by seaplane to say: "I am so sorry my luggage is so tatty, but it wasn't when Louis Vuitton gave it to my grandmother in 1926" (when in fact he died in 1892). And of Fire Island, Holleran writes: "For even now the drums were in our blood, we sat forward almost hearing them across the bay, and the van raced on through the streets so that the driver could hustle back for another load of pleasure-seekers, so bent on pleasure they were driving right through Happiness, it seemed, a quieter brand of existence that flourished under these green elms. We kept driving right through all the dappled domesticity, like prisoners, indeed, being moved from jail to jail imprisoned in our own sophistication." It was soon to come to so catastrophic an end, but Fire Island became totemic world-wide of our new-found freedom - we had the bigots on the run.

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  3. Thank you for this excellent series. You can really feel an increased openness and sense of freedom in these photos, which is all the more touching given what the future would bring. I love this photo. Handsome guy with an amazing body who looks totally natural, at ease and enjoying life.

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    1. You're welcome, Peter. I agree with your take on the picture.

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  4. I have always like Bianchi's work, and these are new to me. This guy is fantastic!

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    1. He's still alive and making pictures today, B.D. Some of his later work is more technically advanced, but still fresh and beautiful.

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