A vintage photo dated March 26, 1949, has captured the imagination of LGBT Redditors who wonder who were the handsome men named “Buzz” and “Tommy.”
The photo has surfaced on the internet from time to time with the earliest appearance I could find being a post in 2012 at HomoHistory.com, but no one has ever been able to decipher who the two young men were, or who they were to each other.
We can tell from the pic that they appeared to be lifeguards since they are wearing swim trunks and their t-shirts read, “Dept. of Parks Life Guard.”
On the back of the photo is the inscription, “To Buzz, I’ll always remember the times we spent together. All my love, your Tommy”
The sign-off reading “all my love, your Tommy” certainly leans into a romantic flavor.
And one more detail has been noticed by those captivated by the image: the two men’s arms are almost on top of each other, as if they want to hold hands but weren’t sure.
In 1949, homosexuality was against the law in most countries so the sentiments expressed could have posed a danger for the two men.
Some folks have posited that Buzz and Tommy were just two good friends without any romantical inclinations at all. That, back in the day, men hadn’t been taught to be afraid of any semblance of tenderness or deep friendship.
But I find my gaydar pinging as do many others.
The pic re-emerged on the subreddit r/lgbt two days ago, and folks’ imaginations continue to swirl about Tommy and Buzz.
One commenter wrote, “Reminds me of that possibly gay couple in Pompei that historians always seem to dismiss, ugh.”
Another wondered aloud, “I wonder if they had to get married. Or if they were lifeguards and the summer was over and they had to go back to their lives of lies.”
Sometimes, the point of discovering a piece of history isn’t necessarily knowing the whole truth, but how it makes us feel and what that might reveal within us.
“This makes me happy and sad at the same time,” offered one Redditor.
And a Reddit user commented: “The fact it says ‘Your Tommy’ really suggests that they were lovers. I’m so lucky to live in a time and place where two men can walk down the street holding hands and not be arrested.”
The Instagram account lgbt_history shared the photo back in 2016 where the image received comments like “Overwhelming,” “Lovely,” and “67 years ago boys loved boys.”
One Instagram user wrote, “Can we remake Grease with this love story? Instead of Danny being cool, he’s closeted but desperate for Tommy.”