Love & Sex

An Intimate Look Into San Francisco’s Vibrant Gay Community During the 1980s

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Beautiful black and white images photographed by Thomas Alleman.

While working as a newspaper photographer for Los Angeles newspaper The Sentinel, Thomas Alleman dug into capturing candid moments within San Francisco's vibrant gay community of the '80s. Most of this racy work went unpublished at the time, until 2009 when Alleman dug back into the film that had been shelved for decades. The images he discovered created the beautiful series Dancing in the Dragons Jaws.

The black and white images go behind the scenes of glamorous queer social events, drag performances, and muscle contests. But even more intriguing were the photos Alleman captured behind the parties and parades, highlighting the cultural struggle facing one of the world's most recognized gay neighborhoods. He told Feature Shoot, “We reported and photographed a blizzard of protests and demonstrations, vigils and marches and sit-ins, as the community struggled for social and political recognition of the crisis."

The beauty from this series lies in the ability to celebrate life in the midst of the fight. Some men in suits, others in drag. Women in bikinis and on the back of motorcycles. And while the drum beats were loud during marches and protests, they were even louder at the discos, where the diverse group were gathering to commemorate their mark in our social history.