From the Closet to the Beach: A Photographer's View of Gay Life on Fire Island From 1975 to 1983

T. J. Thomson
  • Visual Communication Quarterly, January 2018, Taylor & Francis
  • DOI: 10.1080/15551393.2017.1343152

How did a gay photographer view his community before and during the AIDS crisis of the '80s?

What is it about?

This study explored how a marginalized group (LGBTQ people) were historically covered (or ignored) in the mainstream news media and then how that coverage contrasted with the representations provided by an insider to that group. The study also provides insights from the insider’s approach that can be transferred to other populations and groups.

Why is it important?

Society continually generates “in” and “out” groups and documentary photographers often cover them in the same ways without the perspective afforded from the past. As such, it’s critical to be aware of past coverage and how we can learn from it so that our current and future coverage can be bettered.


Dr T.J. Thomson (Author)
Queensland University of Technology

Everyone is, or will be, marginalized at some point in their lives (due to the effects of age, gender, racial background, socioeconomic status, etc.) so understanding minority portrayals and how to make them more contextually nuanced can improve self-perception, attitude, and feelings of self-worth.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr T.J. Thomson