It can be argued today that, outside of the military, true camaraderie amongst American men of color has dramatically declined over the years. Black American men in particular have created an atmosphere amongst one another where a mere glance is interpreted as either a prelude to physical violence or the desire for anal rape. This was not always the case.
Amateur historian Trent Kelly spent years scouring pawn shops, garage sales and eBay for an amazingly impressive collection of vintage photographs from the mid-19th to 20th century showing men of color displaying that camaraderie that is sorely missed. From average citizens to military men, most telling of all is how intimate the men appear in the photos.
Whether posing extremely close to one another or going as far as touching, these men brazenly immortalized their affection in a time when the image of American masculinity and manhood wasn’t as blurred as it is today. While many of the men featured in the photos are merely of friends and family, some of the images clearly capture the companionship of homosexual couples.
Some of these images are sure to be gay and others may not. The end result is speculative at best for want in applying a label. Not every gesture articulated between men was an indication of male to male intimacies. Assuredly, what all photographs in this book have in common are signs of Afro American male affection and love that were recorded for posterity without fear and shame. Friendships where men often wrote romantically to one another, walked arm in arm were not uncommon to the straight and gay men alike during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Depending on economic situation, many even slept together and this may have precluded or included physical intimacy between the sheets.