Same-Sex Couples Shown Relaxing at Home During the Height of the AIDS Epidemic

It was not until after Sage Sohier had already began photographing same-sex couples that she would discover her own father was gay. Having left her mother when Sage was just a toddler, he had nearly married another woman before a string of young men followed.

Though he never admitted he was gay, Sage feels the photo project would serve as a way of connecting for the father and daughter and the young man with whom he would eventually share his life.

Her project began in 1986 at the height of the AIDS panic, when many feared contact of any kind would transmit the disease. These unfounded beliefs led Sage to contemplate how this affected the lives of homosexual men and women — not necessarily affected with the disease — in their day to day lives.

Sage began by going to afternoon “tea dances” in Provincetown, Mass., an enclave for the community in the northeast. She would not enter their homes or even bring her camera until a rapport had developed with the family. Through it, she watched as they raised their children, dealt with daily life, and confronted the AIDS epidemic — sometimes in their own home.

Sage’s photo project, “At Home With Themselves: Same-Sex Couples in 1980s America,” is showing now through November 2nd at the Blue Sky Gallery in Portland, Oregon.

Jean and Elaine. Sante Fe, NM. 1988.

same-sex couples

Gordon and Jim, with Gordon’s mother, Margot. San Diego. 1987.

at home with themselves

Pinky and Diane, with two of Diane’s eight children. Kenner, LA. 1988.

1980s photography

Trip and Alan. Key West, Fla. 1988.

Sage Sohier

Chris and Cris. Provincetown, Mass. 1986.

same-sex relationships

Doris and Debie, with Doris’ daughter, Junyette. Los Angeles. 1987.

AIDs in the 1980s

Cindy and Barb’s wedding. Boston. 1986.

at home with themselves

Bill and Ric, with Ric’s daughter Kate. San Francisco. 1987.

1980s photography

Stephanie and Monica. Boston. 1987.

Sage Sohier

David and Eric. Boston. 1986.

same-sex relationships

Lloyd and Joel. San Francisco. 1987.

AIDs in the 1980s

via New York Times, images by Sage Sohier

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