Gustavo had previously given me permission to use my photos of him from those earlier years on my Instagram page, @bammer47. On a whim, we decided I’d photograph him in Psalm Springs in his pool much the same way he’d posed for me 24 years earlier in Southampton. Photos from that shoot and from the earlier years appear here. Gustavo was 28 in the first set and 52 when I captured his image in Palm Springs. By the time of the latest shoot, he’d gone through two hips and one shoulder replacement, though the photos give little hint that his body had been through so much—he still looks great!
In New York City, in the early 1990s, Gustavo Otto, a beautiful man who’d emigrated there from Chile, became my photographic muse. To be fair, it was hard to miss Gustavo, since he had one of the most beautiful derrieres I’d ever seen! Beyond that, he had a great energy which I loved to capture in photographs. Over a period of a year or so, he regularly posed for me in different locations, including Central Park, at parties in my Manhattan apartment, and at the beach and poolside in Southampton. Then, sometime in the early ’00s, we lost track of each other.
A year or two ago, we were reconnected on Facebook. It turns out that he had moved to California a decade ago, married David Brastaukas and settled in Palm Springs. In November 2017, when I was traveling to Palm Springs to collect other LGBT historical content for Capturing Rainbows, we made plans for me to visit him and meet his husband.
It felt wonderful welcoming Gustavo back into my life after an absence of over a decade. The value of friendships—especially those that cross decades can never be underestimated. They keep the past alive for us, keep us grounded in the present, and give us a sense as we move into the unknown of the future that we are not alone.