A 1983 yearbook and its portrayal of sexual identity

Last week in the archives I looked through a yearbook from 1983. Needless to say, being a yearbook, I captured many images that clue into that times sexual identity. The first thing I noticed is that most all pictures of men together they were standing in an extremely masculine accord. This is either a popular consensus of social etiquette at the time, or a direct effect of the editor’s bias.

As we can see in      Note Oct 11, 2012 (11) the two men in the bottom picture are standing arm in arm, drink in hand, and with adequate pelvic distance. This is crucial for the picture to both paint the masculinity of the men and implied heterosexuality of the men. In the picture on the top right, the gentlemen on the left is clearly more sexually interested in the women he is standing next to compared to these gentlemen; arm in arm, drinks in hand, but notice how much less space exists between the sexual organs of the two women and the man. Notice how much more fluid this picture is compared to the squared up picture of the two men on the bottom. To contrast, look at the picture on the top. Women tend to lean in closer from pictures and “friend moments” but even they maintain a distance, shown by the girl on the far left. If the girl on the far left was sexually interested in the girl she stood next to, then she would have been closer. Plus looking at the fact they all have drinks implies they are drunk, and alcohol being drunk is one of the most frequent preludes to sex there is.

Note Oct 11, 2012 (5) gives incite into the sexual identity of popular culture of the time. In the picture we see a criminal in bars from a great movie, a Disney heterosexual love story, many famous celebrities, another heterosexual romance, a few more celebrities, a half dressed ( and I am assuming gay due to his stance) standing with two other men and a woman (sexual preference still to be determined), Modena, and a Governor/Actor. Aside from Michael Jackson’s sexuality (which in my opinion is up for debate { I nether view him as gay or straight, more like a musical idol}) there is only one “gay” thing that I can see in this picture with my  “straight” eyes. This to me shows that America was moving closer to a society that accepts homosexuality. Times were still hard for the homosexual community but socially there has been some progress.

Gay sexual identity is present, it is just hidden and slightly eluded to. This point brings me back to the picture above; maybe the men on the bottom picture were gay, and maybe they were trying to hide the fact that they were homosexuals, The sexuality might only be seen in the undertone. This of course, can be applied to any of the pictures seen and captured. Is what they portray heterosexual, or is it just how we perceive it to be?

2 thoughts on “A 1983 yearbook and its portrayal of sexual identity

  1. I agree that the homosexual community was becoming more accepted in American Society during the 80’s, but I feel there are more examples from the 80’s regarding the acceptance of homosexuality. Homosexuality was also becoming more accepted in the 70’s during the sexual revolution (Gay Bath houses, Harvey Milk).

  2. Optimus: you are moving in the right direction with your posts. Keep on honing in on just a few images and develop a deeper argument that is connected to our course readings. And remember to caption your pictures with date and publication. Lastly, please try to make sure your pics are clear so the reader can see what each image is.

    Now on to content: you can not tell if someone is gay by how they are standing. I do like your discussion of the pictures of students at various parties and I especially think our discussion with George on the day you captured these photos to be important. Keep working on your critical analysis. Lastly, I can’t believe you had no commentary on Magic Johnson and his HIV+ status. That, to me, is ripe for analysis.

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