Do you recognize anyone in these photos? It’s a puzzler.
“We have put in months and months and months investigating who these guys are,” said Neal Baer, who is on the board of the ONE Archives Foundation in Los Angeles where the pictures are being kept.
He and Michael Wolfe, a writer and former academic who is an expert at retelling life stories, and P.J. Palmer, a filmmaker, are in the midst of assembling the backstory on where exactly the photos came from and then sharing what is an amazing piece of lost history.
What the researchers have shared so far on their site — OurOneStory.com — about the unknown grooms is that this collection of photographs was first printed circa 1957 at a neighborhood drugstore in Philadelphia. They capture what appears to be a same-sex commitment ceremony, including the exchange of rings in front of witnesses, an officiant leading the ceremony, the first kiss, dancing, opening of gifts, cutting the cake and more. The owner of the drugstore deemed these particular wedding photos to be inappropriate. He refused to return the photos to the grooms.
Sixty years later, the photos were found. The originals are now kept safely between the ONE Archives at the USC Libraries in Los Angeles and at the Wilcox Archives in Philadelphia.
Wolfe recalls being introduced to the images on a tour of the ONE Archives. “We just left pretty stunned,” said Wolfe. “We were a little bright-eyed about, ‘Oh, we’ll just go and find the guys in these photos,” but it’s turned into a long-term project.
“Does anybody recognize them? We’d love to know that,” said Baer, who is a Hollywood figure familiar with drama, having written for television shows ER, Law & Order SVU, and more.
“We call ourselves like the gay Scooby-Doo,” said Wolfe. “We get to go and hunt down this amazing story.”
The unknown grooms would probably be in their 80s or 90s if still living, Baer estimates.
“What would be a huge help is just getting these photos in front of a bunch of 80 and 90-year-olds,” said Baer.
“We are hopeful that in the connected age that we could spread them fairly widely and get more eyes on them,” said Wolfe. “There are too many recognizable faces among the set that we couldn’t find a match.”