Thursday, June 23, 2016
This documentary looks at all the developments, both positive and negative, that overtook the gay community and gay rights advocacy after the Stonewall riots of 1969. After Stonewall traces the formation of the Gay Liberation Front, which fell apart from too much divisiveness; the Gay Activists Alliance, which brought a new (non-violent) militancy to the fight for acceptance and gay rights; the scourge of AIDS, unfairly deemed a "gay" disease and which almost took the gay male community back into a figurative stone age; the rise of groups such as the National Gay Task Force, Queer Nation and Act Up (an AIDS Rights group); and the emergence of Anita Bryant and her anti-gay hate group, Save the Children, which served to galvanize many members of both the gay and straight community to organize and fight back. Along the way we meet Out politician Barney Frank; lesbian congresswoman Sheila James Kuehl (who played Zelda on Dobie Gillis); writers Armistad Maupin, Larry Kramer and Craig Lucas; black historian Barbara Smith; and many others. You'll also learn that Betty Friedan wanted lesbians out of the National organization of Women because she saw them as the "lavender menace" that would topple women's rights; watch Out Army officer Sgt. Malkovich get on the cover of Time; revisit the tragic death of young Matthew Shephard; and listen to some activists deplore the media exploitation of gay rights and its increasing commercialization.
Verdict: Excellent documentary which explores the very wide diversity of the gay and lesbian community. ***1/2.