With no rights, and the acts being pretty much illegal world over, 1950s were not a time for LGBT people. The police were known to target gay and lesbian couples who were classed as being “sexually deviant.” It seems world’s away from the much more accepting world we live in today.
So the courage and bravery of these two men is something to be applauded. Something many people of our generation wouldn’t have the balls to do. Had they been caught they would have been imprisoned, but their defiance shows that love knows no boundaries.
J.J. Belanger, who is featured on the right-hand side of the photographs, is the original owner. He had a long history of fighting for LGBT rights. Having moved to California in the 1950s, while he was in his 20s, from Canada after serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force until 1944, he was one of the original members of the Mattachine Society.
This society was one of the original LGBT organisations in the country. Queerty also reveals that “the Los Angeles coordinator of the Eulenspiegel Society, oldest and largest BDSM education and support group in the United States, in the 1970s.”
He was also a member of Stonewall Gay Democratic Club, as well as Project Inform and the Quarantine Fighter’s Group in 1980s.
The photographs are now part of the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the University of Southern California Libraries, which also has much more archives about the LGBT activist.