Before Stonewall


Before Stonewall (1985)



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This documentary by Greta Schiller takes a look at the sometimes oblique American acknowledgment of homosexuals in the decades before a historical flashpoint in 1969. Late that year, the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village was stormed by police and its patrons arrested -- resulting in two days of rioting. Allen Ginsberg and other celebrities talk about past police tactics, witch-hunts, censorship, and historical "cleansing" operations that violated human rights and civil liberties -- such as routing gays and lesbians out of the State Department. A certain openness about sexual preferences started appearing in the 1920s and accelerated during World War II, eventually culminating in the organized movements of the 1960s and later demanding an end to discrimination. Older and younger generations of gays and lesbians present different viewpoints on a variety of topics, and conflicts or disagreements between gays and lesbians are outlined. The seriousness of the subject of discrimination is balanced with humor, which makes this documentary more accessible to straight audiences unfamiliar with the topic. ~ Eleanor Mannikka, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Before Stonewall

All Critics (5)

Fascinating history of 20th Century Gay America

Aug 20, 2005 | Rating: 4/5

This is a documentary that can tell the sometimes bitter truth and still conclude with an unambiguously heartening flourish.

May 21, 2004 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Before Stonewall stands as a competent documentary, straight-forward without any great cinematic techniques that stand out

Sep 1, 2002 | Rating: B- | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Before Stonewall

I saw After Stonewall before seeing Before Stonewall. I don't think it particularly matters. Having this film created in the 80s allows us to get the words of many early activists who are unfortunately no longer with us. It paints what is thankfully becoming more of a sad period in history that has now passed.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

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