Wednesday, April 18, 2012


My friend is currently writing a paper on male fashion in the 1830s, and came across this gem of a picture.

Notice that the two men in the picture are holding hands! This drawing sparked a very animated discussion among my friends and I.
Were these men being portrayed as homosexual, or was this simply a gesture of friendship?
We discussed the phenomenon of "dandies" at this time - men who were very concerned with their appearance and things of material value. They took great pride in looking spiffy and were often thought to be a little over-the-top by their less-dandy male counterparts. 
One of my friends claims that the dandy population was also widely considered to lean towards homosexuality. This is something that I have not heard, but I also couldn't find a lot of information on the subject, so I can neither prove nor disprove this claim. If it IS true, though, this may very well be a picture of two gay men!
If not however - if dandies were assumed to be straight just as most other men were - then I'm still confused by this picture. Did men just hold hands in the 1830s? Was that a thing?

If you have any answers for me, please, let me know! I'd love to learn more about this!

1 comment:

  1. A lot of men used to hold hands back in those days. It wasn't seen as a display of homosexuality like it is nowadays and even if the two men were indeed lovers it wouldn't matter because Bisexuality, Lesbianism and Homosexuality weren't considered taboo at that time. In fact many people were quite open about their attraction to the same sex. If memory serves me correctly, from about the 1600's through to the late 1800's (except for Oliver Cromwell's goody goody reign of wholesome puritan moral values in the mid 1600's), the whole time was pretty much one big era of sexual liberation. It wasn't unusual for a man to take more than one partner either. King Charles II was famous for having a wife, multiple mistresses and a fondness for the same sex.

    I hope this helped you learn something new. You might want to check what I've said for yourself though because I've gone completely from memory and my memory can be a bit fuzzy sometimes haha.