By The Sea
Like today, gay men in the 20th century headed to the beach
when the temperature got hot. There they could lounge, play and socialize at
what were de facto gay beaches in and around New York. The photographs exhibited here are from the archive’s Gay
Beach Photographs Collection. Taken from the 1940s through the 1970s, they
depict beach scenes at Riis Park in Queens, Atlantic City, Coney Island and
elsewhere in the New York region. The photographer remains a mystery. The collection, containing hundreds of snapshots in a single, hardcover scrapbook, was acquired by the Out of the Closet Thrift Shop on Manhattan’s Upper East Side from a man who was moving out of the city. It was subsequently donated to The Center’s archive in 1992. Though the times they depict may have been closeted, these photos of men enjoying summer afternoons by the sea help round out our understanding of gay life in the last century.