In October 2020, The Queer Review spoke with Hugh Nini and Neal Treadwell about their stunning book LOVING A Photographic History of Men in Love 1850s-1950s. It’s a collection of previously unpublished vernacular photography depicting romantic love between men that powerfully and movingly reasserts both that love is love and that we’ve always been here. A married couple themselves, Neal, who works in the cosmetic industry and Hugh, a former ballet dancer turned ballet teacher, have been together for nearly three decades. While browsing in an antique store in Dallas, Texas around 20 years ago, the pair stumbled across a photograph from the 1920s of two men in a tender embrace. That unexpected discovery sparked a passion that has resulted in their still growing “accidental collection” of around 3,000 photographs of men in love.
The story of how their collection began and grew is explored in Emmy-winner David Millbern’s breathtaking feature documentary, 100 Years of Men in Love: The Accidental Collection, now streaming on Here TV. As Hugh and Neal talk knowledgeably and passionately about the images, Milbern brings the photographs to life in crisp HD, as cinematographer Doug Yoel’s camera examines specific details like a look in a subject’s eye or the often subtly intimate way that the men are physically interacting with one another, which strongly suggests a romantic involvement. The result is a rich and rewarding expansion of the book that’s a touching and empowering window into our queer ancestry.
Watch the trailer here:
“While going through boxes of my family’s photos over the years, I was always curious about one particular picture of two handsome young men from the 1908 Bourbon, Indiana fair. This tintype gave me such a sense of wonderment. Then I learned of Neal and Hugh’s enormous vintage collection of other loving male couples. Now I know and cherish these ancestors even more. As a filmmaker, I am honored to bring to light these joyful relationships that never had the freedom to express themselves openly. These loving couples mattered then and they matter now. I celebrate their courage to love.”
By James Kleinmann
100 Years of Men in Love: The Accidental Collection is streaming now on Here TV.