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Black Gay And Gone

Black Gay And Gone

Photos of black men for 1980s by Patric McCoy
Patric McCoy

Photos capture Chicago's queer Black men in the 1980s, when many were lost to HIV/AIDS.

During the 1980s Patric McCoy, an environmental scientist and collector of African American art, traveled around Chicago with his camera snapping thousands of images of gay Black men. The images — always taken at the subjects’ request — document a difficult decade, by the end of which thousands would die of HIV/AIDS, including many of McCoy’s own friends, lovers, and subjects. Neither directed nor posed each man controlled how he appeared, making these images particularly successful in capturing a moment in time and space, and serving as a memorial to what (and who) was lost.

A new exhibit, Patric McCoy: Take My Picture, curates 50 black-and-white and color photographic portrayals of these images of gay Black men on the streets of Chicago in the 1980s. Below is a sneak peek into the show, which will run at Wrightwood 659 in Chicago from April 14 – July 15, 2023.

All photos Patric McCoy

 Two Young Men and Waves 

Two Young Men and Waves, 1985, by Patric McCoy

Patric McCoy

Two Young Men and Waves, 1985, by Patric McCoy. Courtesy of the artist.

Cream and Green

Patric McCoy

Cream and Green, 1985, by Patric McCoy. Courtesy of the artist.

El Smirk

El Smirk, 1985, by Patric McCoy

Patric McCoy

El Smirk, 1985, by Patric McCoy. Courtesy of the artist.

Rialto

Rialto, 1985, by Patric McCoy.

Patric McCoy

Rialto, 1985, by Patric McCoy. Courtesy of the artist.

The Rialto Tap, a now defunct gay bar in the South Loop of Chicago, drew many of McCoy’s muses. Open around the clock, it was one of few places where black men could socialize with other black men; and attracted men from all walks of life: downtown professionals, unhoused people, drag queens, gangsters, “buppies.”

Jeff

Jeff, 1985, by Patric McCoy

Patric McCoy

Jeff, 1985, by Patric McCoy. Courtesy of the artist.

Youngbloods

Youngbloods, 1985, by Patric McCoy

Patric McCoy

Youngbloods, 1985, by Patric McCoy. Courtesy of the artist.

Five

Five, 1985, by Patric McCoy.

Patric McCoy

Five, 1985, by Patric McCoy. Courtesy of the artist.

Smoke Clouds, 1985, by Patric McCoy

Patric McCoy

Smoke Clouds, 1985, by Patric McCoy. Courtesy of the artist.

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