Hilton Als reviews PRIDE by Fred W. McDarrah for The New Yorker

Part of Fred’s drive—isn’t it everyone’s?—was to provide for his children; work meant family and safety. Another thing that I found interesting in many of Fred’s pictures, before and after he started a family with his wife, Gloria, is how interested he was in New York’s improvised families, how we Manhattanites take up with one another and forge living and uncomfortable bonds that last for a night or forever. I think those alliances are at the heart of Fred’s pictures of gay life in the city’s pre- and post-Stonewall days, when things were on the verge of change. And they did change, and of course Fred was there, at the very start of a movement that became a movement when queer people were pushed to the wall that historic night on Christopher Street. Fred saw it all and recorded it all: the young queer people who were tired of being told that their way of being was obscene, that the families they’d made were twisted, all those folks who had been told year after year all their lives that they were wrong.

The Stonewall—the safety of a gay bar—was a small thing to ask, having come up with no safety at all, and I wonder if Fred—because of his upbringing—understood that. He must have, because he was always drawn to people who didn’t have a lot but made a lot with what they had. His portrait of Candy Darling, the trans performer, is one of the greatest comments we have not only on transformation but on stillness—a moment of reflection during an era when change, not stillness, was the point. I think I first saw Fred’s pictures of Manhattan’s gay denizens—the protesters fighting for change, fighting to be themselves—at the Oscar Wilde Bookshop, on Christopher Street. That store is gone now, but it stood for so much during its time: another place of safety, filled with information about who we were, and who we would be.

Read the full review here.

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