In 1948 The Polaroid Land camera revolutionized photography by allowing people to instantly and privately develop their own photographs. For Steward this was particularly important because any kind of evidence of deviant sexuality could be incriminating and may have cost him his job and led to prison time. He took these photographs in the hundreds and shared them with Dr. Kinsey and The Institute For Sexual Research where they were valued as a brave act of historic and scientific research. There was very little evidence of queer sexuality in these times.
Through the documentation of his sexual acts he was making queer sexuality visible. Along with his other record keeping practices such as the Stud File catalogue, documenting every sexual encounter of his life, Steward has left behind a testament of his sexual activity and a “body of evidence” marking his existence in a social arena that would have rendered him invisible.
In our gallery exhibit in the CounterPULSE lobby we have re-imagined Steward’s queer gaze. We recreated his polaroids using local guys to pose for photos with our very own Sam Steward–Ned Brauer, the lead of Homo File.
Photos by Gary Ivanek