Hal Fischer’s Gay Semiotics ♂ (1977)
Hal Fischer began photographing the subtle codes employed throughout San Francisco’s gay community in February 1977. Fischer observed this semiotic system first hand while living in the Castro Street and Haight Ashbury neighborhoods. As his series on gay male signifiers progressed, the photographer expanded the scope of his project to include a wider view of the gay experience, resulting in an exhibition and publication of Gay Semiotics ♂ in 1977.
Hal Fischer successfully illustrated a pocket manual for traversing the gay community in the Castro of San Francisco in the 1970s and published an ethnography of sorts. He produced a resource with explanatory captions and narratives that sheds light on the marginalized group during the rise of the gay liberation movement, a group who pushed for heightened visibility at the time. He divided the book into sections: signifiers, essay, archetypal media images, fetishes and street fashions providing a taste of various components of gay society at the time.