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Memorial Union lecture showcases photographic history of men in love

%E2%80%9CLoving%3A+A+Photographic+History+of+Men+in+Love%2C+1850s-1950s%2C+authors+Hugh+Nini+and+Neal+Treadwell+with+Kelly+Winfrey+at+a+lecture+February+12%2C+2024.+
Ashton Tack
“Loving: A Photographic History of Men in Love, 1850s-1950s,” authors Hugh Nini and Neal Treadwell with Kelly Winfrey at a lecture February 12, 2024.

Authors Hugh Nini and Neal Treadwell spoke at the Memorial Union Monday about their book, “Loving: A Photographic History of Men in Love, 1850s-1950s.”

The book features hundreds of photographs, taken from Nini and Treadwell’s personal collection, showcasing romantic relationships between men through over 100 years of history.

Nini and Treadwell, moderated by associate professor Kelly Winfrey, discussed history together and what led them to publishing the book together.

The couple have been married for 32 years and began the collection when they came upon photographs at an antique sale, which featured a male couple outside of a house in a garden.

“When we saw this photograph, we thought we’d found the only one like it in the entire world, and there’d never be a second one,” Nini said.

After finding the initial photo, the couple began to collect more photographs, which has now turned into a collection of over 4,000 photos from five continents. Nini said the collection was missing photos from Antarctica and Africa.

Nini spoke on the “obligation” the couple felt to publish the photos and shared the stories behind the featured photographs.

“Independently we thought to ourselves, ‘Wow, this is actually a very substantial group of photographs,’” Nini said. “It seems wrong that the only two people in the world that are seeing it are us.”

To narrow down if a photograph shows two people “in love,” Nini said the couple uses a “50/50 rule.”

“There was this look that two people have in their eyes when they have fallen in love,” Nini said. “It’s not something you can manufacture and it’s not something you can hide if it’s there.”

Treadwell also detailed a specific couple featured in the book, who served together in the 42nd infantry division during WWII and began their relationship while in basic training. The couple, John and Dariel, were part of the division that liberated the Dachau concentration camp on April 29, 1945.

After the lecture, attendees were invited to participate in a Q/A portion. Nini and Treadwell were asked about how the process of collecting and publishing the photos impacted their own relationship.

“If you can work with the person you love the most and not kill each other,” Treadwell said. “It brought us so close together… this has amplified our love because it became a passion of something we did together.”

Nini also touched on the impact the couple experienced as they began to explore the photographs in their collection.

“The collecting part was, initially, just reinforcement for us and for our relationship,” Nini said. “We just saw it as, ‘It’s not just us’… I think it grew our hearts bigger because it was already full, and now our hearts have just gotten a little bigger because it needed space for more love.”

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