PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — LGBT archivists in Philadelphia and California are trying to identify two men photographed on their wedding day at a time when gay marriage was considered taboo.
Bob Skiba, curator of the Wilcox Archives at the William Way LGBT Community Center, says the photos surfaced on eBay in 2013 when they were placed there by the daughter of a Cherry Hill woman who owned the photographs until the day she died.
In 1957, the unidentified woman was working at a North Philadelphia drug store where the newlyweds tried to have the film developed.
"When they brought the photos to this place on North Broad and Allegheny, they were not released because the owner of the drug store thought they were inappropriate," Skiba explained.
But the owner also gave employees open access to confiscated photos, so the employee hung on to them.
"(She was) thinking that if these guys showed up again, she would recognize them and sneak them the photos," Skiba said. "They never did come back."
Two collectors snapped up the photos on eBay and promptly donated them.
One set went to the Wilcox Archives in Philadelphia, the other to the One Archives in California.
Skiba says he is utterly fascinated with the series of snapshots that depict a traditional but decidedly unconventional wedding for the time when Eisenhower was president and rock 'n' roll was in its infancy, but two men or two women getting married was unheard of.
"It shows the actual ceremony," Skiba said. "It shows them kissing afterward, someone cutting cake, and it shows people dancing and opening gifts."
But the questions persists: Who are the men, and are they still alive?
Skiba and his California counterpart have reached out to senior LGBT members, but no bites yet. There is a website, OurOneStory.com, where anyone with a lead on the men's identities can share information.
"They're really interesting to me 'cause I've seen photos before of mock weddings taking place in the 50s where it's obviously a goof. But this is serious. The men are all dressed in suits, wearing flowers. There's a wedding cake, there are gifts," he said.
CORRECTION: The officiant is shown in the photos holding a copy of Kahlil Gibran's "The Prophet," not a bible.