These Photos Of SF's Gay Community in the '80s Are Amazing

Mar 06 at 3pm

Photographer Thomas Alleman moved to San Francisco from Michigan in 1985. A year later, he began working for the San Francisco Sentinel, a "scrappy, very design-y, very political" gay weekly. During the early days of the AIDS epidemic, Alleman worked for multiple gay publications that decidedly focused their coverage on the community's response to AIDS and aimed to paint a more full and realistic picture of what life in SF was like.

These photos originally debuted at the Jewett Gallery in San Francisco in December, 2012, under the title, “Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaws,” and Alleman has this to say about the collection: "I hope these photographs, from San Francisco’s gay community in the mid-eighties, remind viewers of that moment in our social history – so long ago, and so very recent – when the first wave of the AIDS epidemic crashed onto one of our country’s most vibrant neighborhoods. And, while that tribe convulsed with well-earned fear, heartbreak, and anger, some still found the courage and the will to celebrate the dream of life they’d come to San Francisco for, and they danced in the dragon’s jaws."

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