Most of what we know about this photo is written on the reverse; I wish we knew by whom, but there we find only “Ruby with our Plymouth.” The car’s design dates the photo as 1940s. Ruby’s pose and style of dress lean toward the masculine and there is no doubt that these are her clothes, the ones she lives in. So many photos of women in pants are clearly costumes, something worn for a play or masquerade, but not here. These are Ruby’s clothes. Everything fits her and looks comfortably broken in. She has worn those saddle shoes for years and they look it.
Her bearing, too, is causal, not stilted, or theatrical. And there is something rather masculine about her pose, leaning against her car, not languidly draped over it. The key in her right hand tells me that this is her car, even before reading the description on the back.
There is no proof that Ruby is trans or lesbian or anywhere on the LGBTQ+ spectrum; nothing concrete to point to. Yet, there is something about Roby that sets my queer radar tingling. I can see Ruby, wearing the same clothes, in the same pose, looking right at home standing at the bar in Mona’s 440 Club, a San Francisco lesbian bar that was open from 1936 into the 1950s.