By Jeff Walsh
Stonewall Uprising is a new documentary that details the birth of the modern gay rights movement in New York City on June 28, 1969, when a group of patrons at the Stonewall Inn fought back during a regular police raid, leading to three days of riots and our first "pride parade."
Unlike today, where every song at a Lady Gaga concert is covered from every angle by 400 different cell phone and video cameras and uploaded to YouTube, there isn't much footage of the Stonewall Riots, but when this documentary finally gets to that famous night, hearing the oral narrative from the people who were there, combined with photos and talking heads, is still gripping.
Hearing about that night, you understood why this film (which opens in the Bay Area this weekend) was made. But, it did seem to take its time getting to that fateful night. Don't get me wrong, I think context is great, but seeing the old news footage of how homosexuality was treated back in the day seems to run a bit long. Every time we see a talking head, we know they are setting the stage for the riots, and then we drift into more backstory, teased again.
I think recently seeing an oral history so expertly told with We Were Here, made seeing one that just doesn't measure up as effectively more obvious. I saw the same talking heads throughout this film, but it seems they were used more to advance the history of a people. They were there to serve the story of Stonewall, when in fact, they are the story of Stonewall. I'd rather hear them contextualize the history, weave in their own personal narratives, and use that to advance the story.
Would you guys like me to put a little Gay History 101 class together for you? I think it's really important that you understand the evolution of gay culture. We do have a rich and colorful history and cultural heritage, you know. I mean, not only the American Gay rights Movement, which was an important one, but how homosexuals influenced history, art, technology, politics.
By Jeff Walsh
A new film documents the era and events that led to riots at the Stonewall bar in New York City in 1969. "Stonewall," the movie based in part on Martin Duberman's book of the same name, tells a powerful story about drag queens who refused to be hassled by police any longer, and fought back. The riots are considered the birth of the modern day gay and lesbian rights movement.