Blogger Maria Popova, who runs the wonderfully eclectic Brain Pickings site, unearthed this gem of a book, “Dear Friends: American Photographs of Men Together, 1840-1918,” by David Deitcher.
These photos prove that the phenomenon of the “bromance” existed—well before Brad Pitt and George Clooney, Lance Armstrong and Matthew McConaughey, or Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.
To me, one of the more heartbreaking aspects of American culture has always been the way ideas about “tough guy” masculinity limit and restrict men. At its most extreme, men aren’t allowed to have confidants, to express their emotions, or to show affection for any member of the opposite sex. But the truth is, close, platonic male friendships can be found throughout literature, including the “Lord of the Rings” series and even in the Bible.
There’s no assumption about whether these men, pictured in daguerreotypes, cartes-de-visites, and vintage postcards, are gay or straight. The pictures simply have a Victorian-era sweetness and innocence to them. They are also great examples of fantastically dapper retro fashions.