Photographs capture century-old scenes of male intimacy

At a time when homosexuality was a criminal offence and harsh sentences were brought down upon gay men, these images of male affection from the 19th century are truly remarkable.

Embracing each other, holding hands and reclining together, these incredible black-and-white photographs provide a rare glimpse into men showing physical love to other men in the 1800s and early 1900s.

The images capture Victorian and early-twentieth century males in intimate positions - and showing a daring amount of openness with one another for the time.

There is little information about the individuals in the photos and it is quite extraordinary that these images still survive - as many old photos of homosexual couples are believed to have been purposely destroyed by family members.

Although it is unknown whether the people in these unique photos were related, gay or just friends - the tender and close relationship between the men pictured is poignantly evident. For many, these images represent a small fragment of LGBT history that was repressed and concealed for so long. 

A US soldier gives a friend a kiss on the cheek

A US soldier gives a friend a kiss on the cheek (left) and A man holding flowers sits on another man's lap whilst posing for the camera (right)

Two men pose for the camera whilst standing remarkable close to one another. In the nineteenth century, male friendships were marked by an intense bond and an ardent sentimentality for one another

Two men pose for the camera whilst standing remarkable close to one another. In the nineteenth century, male friendships were marked by an intense bond and an ardent sentimentality for one another

Two men embracing one another in 1925. Many upper-class men would have attended same sex boarding schools from a young age and as adults, they have been encouraged to join gentlemen's clubs or men's only societies

Two men embracing one another in 1925. Many upper-class men would have attended same sex boarding schools from a young age and as adults, they have been encouraged to join gentlemen's clubs or men's only societies

Two men pose for the camera whilst holding hands (left) and one man puts his arm around the other in a display of male affection (right). Society in the 1800s was so sex-segregated that tight bonds of solidarity formed between men and they would have been happy to express their friendship through physical affection

Two men pose for the camera whilst sitting on what looks like an American porch. From the mid-nineteenth century, it was not uncommon for male friends to visit a photographer's studio together to have a portrait taken as a memento of their love and loyalty

Two men pose for the camera whilst sitting on what looks like an American porch. From the mid-nineteenth century, it was not uncommon for male friends to visit a photographer's studio together to have a portrait taken as a memento of their love and loyalty

Two men pose for the camera whilst sitting in grass in Germany in 1912. ale-to-male relationships underwent a serious transformation by the 20th century when fear of being called 'gay' or being thought of as 'unmanly', made men frightened of being tactile with each other

Two men pose for the camera whilst sitting in grass in Germany in 1912. ale-to-male relationships underwent a serious transformation by the 20th century when fear of being called 'gay' or being thought of as 'unmanly', made men frightened of being tactile with each other

Two men hold hands on a rail track, taken in the late 1800s (left) and two men in uniform pose for the camera whilst in a provocative pose (right). 

Two men pose for the camera whilst standing remarkably close to one another. The term 'homosexuality' was coined in 1869 and sixteen years later, Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act made 'gross indecency' between men a crime in the United Kingdom

Two men pose for the camera whilst standing remarkably close to one another. The term 'homosexuality' was coined in 1869 and sixteen years later, Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act made 'gross indecency' between men a crime in the United Kingdom

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