Gay Subcultures In The 1970s


Having grown up in the 1970s (well, at least my pre-teen years), homosexuality was neither seen nor heard. There were no hookup apps – just hookup bars. Gay men had to find other gay men under the radar with signals in their dress and look. Poppers were obtained via doctor’s prescription. Subcultures allowed gay men to identify with other gays with similar interests. And, AIDS had not yet wreaked horror on the gay community.

Queerty ran an article this week chronicling a 1977 publication Gay Semiotics that captured the feel of that period:

Photographer Hal Fisher was especially interested in these newfound gay signifiers, and as part of his 1977 publication Gay Semiotics, he provided detailed itemized descriptions of the gay experience in San Francisco at the time. Note the very early use of the term “basic gay,” though we’re guessing he didn’t mean it quite the same way.

Here’s a sampling of his work. You can purchase a copy of the paperback book today, but i’ll set you back upwards of $500.

You can see more pics and detail about this fascinating era here.