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LGBTQIA History From the Back of the Photo

Christina Rice, Senior Librarian, Photo Collection,
James Barlow, left, also known as Jeri Ryan, and August Coy, also known as Irene Paston, at the city hall police station. Photograph dated November 27, 1944.
James Barlow, left, also known as Jeri Ryan, and August Coy, also known as Irene Paston, at the city hall police station. Photograph dated November 27, 1944

Prior to the late 1970s, LGBTQIA coverage in the Los Angeles Herald Examiner (previously the Herald Express) was extremely limited. Any photos in our image archive from the newspaper focus exclusively on men being arrested for "masquerading" as women. This narrow photographic documentation certainly reflects general societal attitudes towards the LGBTQIA community during the time period. Occasionally, Herald staff members would echo these sentiments through their handwritten descriptions on the backs of images or on negative envelopes. Here are some of the more glaring examples of staff commentary on the backs of the Herald Express photos.


Front of the photo: Three men detained and in clothing issued by the jail after being arrested while dressed in women's attire.

three men in a jail cell

Back of the photo: In addition to the original clipping and description, Fairies is included as a file location indicator.

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Front of the photo: Men dressed as women are shown being held in jail after being picked up at an unidentified Halloween event at 3rd Street and Main in downtown Los Angeles.

Five men dressed as women nabbed in Altadena cafe raid

Back of the photo: Queers is included as a filing indicator.

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Front of the the photo: A group of men in women's clothing are show in a holding cell after being arrested in a raid on a cafe in Altadena.

Five men dressed as women nabbed in Altadena cafe raid

Back of the photo: Queers, Fairies, and Falsies have been written by Herald Staff.

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Front of the photo: Two men are shown at a police station after being arrested.

Two men dressed in drag arrested

Back of the photo: A Herald staff member has written Fruits in Season.

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