Pride month 2021: Alabama’s LGBTQ community in vintage photos


In his Highland Avenue apartment in Birmingham, Joe Hulse wrote poems in his diary about men he fondly remembered. Gordie. Alf. Duke.

“If you weren’t far, those hills we know and love so well, those trees, that wailing wind, that brooding day, would all be mad with glorious ecstasy,” Hulse wrote.

The poem was dated November 1, 1910.

It was almost 60 years before The Stonewall Riots in New York brought LGBT rights into national consciousness and 105 years before the first same-sex marriages in Alabama.

Hulse’s Diary is maintained by the Invisible Histories Project, which for years has researched and collected pieces of LGBTQ history.

“This book radically opposes the idea that the history of the Southern Queer community is a modern invention and serves to remind us that places of queer history in Alabama exist in many formats throughout history. “, the project wrote on its website.

In honor of Pride Month, we’re teaming up with the Invisible Histories Project and scanning our archives to share a little glimpse into Alabama’s LGBTQ history.

Joe Hulse from central Alabama (left) and his partner at the Cahaba River in 1912. The Invisible Histories Project recovered Hulse’s diary which contained poems written by Hulse to several men he loved. The IHP believes the diary dates from the early 1900s.


This is a photo from the 1976 Mrs. Vulcan pageant held in Birmingham. Ms. Vulcan was a camp drag event that took community members and dragged them to raise money for the local community. Many local drag artists started this event and the draw for this event was Amateur Drag which was one of the most entertaining in the community.


Mabel’s Beauty Shop & Chain Saw Repair: This photo is of the exterior of Mabel’s which was a gay bar located in Birmingham. This beloved bar opened in the mid-1980s and remained a popular LGBTQ bar until it closed in the 1990s. This photo was courtesy of Roger Torbert from Birmingham.

1977 Press Photo Jody Ford, formerly Sidney Ford, transgender hairstylist

Jody Ford, formerly Sidney Ford, hairdresser underwent gender reassignment surgery (deceased)

(Jody Ford owned Mrs Sid’s hairstyles in Birmingham’s Five Points South. A transgender woman, she had played college basketball and semi-professional football earlier in her life. She was known for her hairdressing skills and his big yellow Cadillac. A motel owner shot him to death in 1977, claimed he was acting in self-defense, and was acquitted.)

Protesters march through Woodrow Wilson Park during President Ronald Reagan's visit to Birmingham, Alabama.

People protesting a visit to Birmingham by President Reagan in June 1985 carry signs that read: “Is our planet worth saving?” US / USSR to get rid of nuclear bombs’; “Freeze and reverse the arms race”; “Let’s not make outer space a new frontier for war / Ban ‘Star Wars’; “Money for Food / Social Security / AIDS Research / Unarmed People”; “No more help for AIDS now”; “The heavens are made for wonder and not for war”; and ‘AIDS is a public health crisis, not a gay problem.’ Reagan was in Birmingham to speak at a fundraiser for US Senator Jeremiah Denton. Alabama Media GroupAlabama Media Group


This 1984 t-shirt is the 1st t-shirt produced by the UA Gay Student Union in celebration of their 1st year. The GSU was the first #LGBTQ student group in the state of # Alabama and was co-founded by local activist Elliott Jones. The group, now called Spectrum, still exists in Alabama. This t-shirt is part of the Miller-Stephens collection hosted by Hoole Special Collections at the University of Alabama and was donated by David Miller who was their first advisor.


This is a photo taken by Sandi Stong of a group of women marching in Washington DC as part of the Gay and Lesbian March on Washington in 1987. Groups from all over the state traveled together for the march and this photo is a group of women from Birmingham. This photo was donated by Beth Gunderson in 2018.

(This photo shows the Auburn Gay Lesbian Association during the 1993 LGB March in Washington.)


Pete Tepley, center, of the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Bob Burns, near right, of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance of Alabama led a rally of about 70 people against hate crimes on Wednesday at UAB Mini-Park. The group honored the memory of Billy Jack Gaither, who was killed on February 19, 1999 because of his gay status. PHPH

(Billy Jack Gaither, 39, was killed in Coosa County on February 19, 1999 because he was gay. Gaither’s murder sparked a nationwide outcry and movement to include sexual orientation in Alabama’s 1994 hate crimes law.)

(Native Florence Bronzie De’Marco has been a legend in the drag queen community for almost 50 years. She was 10 when she snuck into her first gay bar.)

Here are more vintage images and stories from Alabama’s past..

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