This photo of a couple from 1949 has got everyone wanting to find ‘Buzz’ and ‘Tommy’

This photo of a couple from 1949 has got everyone wanting to find ‘Buzz’ and ‘Tommy’

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Buzz and Tommy in their lifeguard uniforms.

A photo, possibly of a gay male couple, has got the internet wanting to find the true story of their lives over 70 years later.

In the image, two young men, probably in their 20s, look confidently into the camera. They are dressed in dark swimming trunks and wear ‘Department of Parks Life Guard’ t-shirts. Moreover, they are standing close together, as if they wish to hold hands.

But nobody seems to know the true origin of the image. There’s only one clue, a handwritten note on the back of the original photo. And it provides a tantalizing clue that the pair were likely a same-sex couple.

It simply says: ‘To Buzz, I’ll always remember the times we spent together. All my love, Your Tommy.’

And in the top corner, Tommy has dated the note – 26 March 1949.

Back then, the majority of countries criminalized homosexuality. So a man expressing affection for another man in writing was dangerous and very brave. Police often used such notes and letters to prove someone guilty of homosexuality.

The message also implies that Tommy gave the photo to Buzz as a parting gift.

Photo of Tommy and Buzz with the note from Tommy on the back.
The photo and the note from Tommy on the back. Commons

More than just good friends

The picture seems to have emerged online around a year ago. But people on Reddit and Instagram have re-shared recently, around the time of the anniversary of the note.

However, people are moved by the story. Some even say they have shed tears over the image.

One Instagram user said: ‘Can we remake Grease with this love story? Instead of Danny being cool, he’s closeted but desperate for Tommy.’

And a Reddit user commented: ‘The fact it says “Your Tommy” really suggests that they were lovers. I’m so lucky to live in a time and place where two men can walk down the street holding hands and not be arrested.’

Meanwhile, people have also commented on the way historians tend to dismiss or erase LGBT+ lives.

One Reddit user commented: ‘Reminds me of that possibly gay couple in Pompeii that historians always seem to dismiss.’

And another complained that historians would claim ‘they were just really good friends’.

However, despite society persecuting men like Tommy and Buzz, and despite historians dismissing their existence, you can’t hide our lives forever. Evidence of LGBT+ people just keeps on emerging through the cracks of history.

We don’t know Buzz and Tommy’s true story – yet. But meanwhile, here are many more moving photos of LGBT+ people from the past which prove couples like them have always existed.

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Author: Tris Reid-Smith