San Francisco’s LGBT scene in the ’80s


It was in 1985 that photographer Thomas Alleman, born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, first moved to the vibrant streets of San Francisco, California.

In the midst of the AIDS epidemic, Alleman began working for gay publications such as the “San Francisco Sentinel,” which he described as a “scrappy, very design-y, very political” gay weekly magazine. He mainly worked with publications that specifically focused on the community’s response to the AIDS crisis. It was his chance to provide a realistic and varied portrait of how the epidemic affected life in the city.

His photos representing gay San Francisco, taken between 1985 and 1988, were unveiled at the Jewett Gallery in the City in December 2012. They were exhibited under the title “Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaws.”

Speaking of his diverse, intriguing collection, Alleman said: “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.”

View more of Alleman’s work on his webiste, found here


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