This excellent documentary leads up to the very famous date of 27 June 1969, when a group of drag queens at the Stonewall in Greenwich Village, New York, had enough of police harassment and rioted. That night is considered the beginning of the gay rights movement.
I think people who can't understand the gay rights movement have never put themselves in the shoes of a modern homosexual, far less a pre-Stonewall one. In some cities, the police would actively antagonize people into fighting back so they could arrest them for resisting arrest, never mind that they hadn't had any cause to arrest them before that. In other cities, it was even more unliveable, which is why New York and San Francisco have historically (since people have thought about it) been seen as gay Meccas--it was somewhat better for gay people there than other places. It's only been since Stonewall that San Francisco has begun to develop its majorly gay-friendly politics.
In fact, the reason for the great San Francisco Halloween parade is that it was the one day of the year when the police wouldn't hassle people for dressing in drag. It was the one day of the year when those with the predilection for drag could really feel natural to themselves.
Even now, things aren't really great. Such debate over gay marriage, as if there were anything sacred about straight marriage anymore. (Have you [i]looked[/i] at divorce statistics, regardless of religion, of late?--not that I think getting divorced is morally wrong if there's something irrevocably wrong in your marriage, but I do think it's morally wrong to get married if you aren't ready to try to make your problems work.) It's blatant hypocrisy, too; twenty-five years ago, the Moral Majority and such were demanding to know why gays had to be so promiscuous all the time, why they didn't all just settle into permanent relationships. Now that gay people are visibly trying to do so, the Moral Majority doesn't want to give them credit for it.
This documentary was made fifteen years post-Stonewall, and I'm sure that everyone interviewed in it would agree that things had gotten [i]much[/i] better in those fifteen years. I do wonder, though, if they think they've gotten as much better again in the 22 years since the documentary was made.