The Invisibles: Vintage Portraits of Love and Pride, published by Rizzoli, is a beautiful depiction of the obvious: homosexual people have been leading the same lives as heterosexuals, as much as possible while still experiencing varying degrees of persecution and prejudice—and turning the camera on themselves, as anyone with a camera does, to depict their own lives. Artist and filmmaker Sébastien Lifshitz collected these photos at yard sales and flea markets, some of which he found in assembled family photo albums. As he explains in his introduction, it was very clear from the albums that the photos inside were indeed depicting a committed romantic relationship and not a friendship, which when seen one at a time, some of the images could easily be.
Lifshitz, who also made a documentary film on this subject, raises an important point when he reminds us that all of these photos are pre-digital era: “Because to obtain these images, they had to have gone to a small neighborhood photo lab to develop the film and then go back to pick up the prints. They, therefore, had to run the risk of exposing themselves socially. The need to keep a memory of their love was certainly stronger than the disapproval of some business or any concerns about what others might say.”
Of course, reviews like this run the risk of reading like a “Celebrities are just like us…” column—this time, of course: “homosexuals are just like us.” Tragically, the point still needs to be made.
All images © Sébastien Lifshitz