Stonewall riots documentary opens eyes to past intolerance

To draw LGBT History Month to a close, Chatham University hosted a showing of the documentary “Stonewall Uprising” in Eddy Theater on October 26. The turnout was small, but for those who attended, it was an extremely informative and entertaining experience.

The subject of the documentary, while focusing mainly on the Stonewall Riots, also showed some rather disturbing clips from 1960’s public service announcements, as well as vivid recreations of the police raid of the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969, against which members of the gay community rioted. The film featured real-life accounts from multiple parties involved, ranging from club queens, journalists in a building next door, and a police officer who was called to raid the club. These varying perspectives showed just how complex this uprising was, and how the riot caused a revolution.

The film described violent accounts that happened regularly within the club and demonstrated how homosexuality was illegal and understood as a lewd act. The severity of the documentary, whether it was from interviews with people against “legalizing gay” or the brutal dramatizations of the police brutality, left some of the viewers in Eddy speechless.

“It’s just crazy to think that if I lived back in this time, I could’ve gone through this,” said first-year student Delenn Fingerlow about the attacks on the LGBT community at the time. “It’s insane what these people went through.”

“I knew of Stonewall going into this, but now I knew how bad it really was,” said first-year student Hunter Yedlowski. “It was wild.”

In the documentary, one man who witnessed the uprising, a journalist for the “Village Voice” at the time, called the uprising, “a Rosa Parks moment.” The graphic detail used in this documentary was explicit, and what made the stories of these individuals so intense and valid was their passionate recount of a horrible memory in their lives. These were personal stories that were told with the consent of individuals who survived attacks. No gory details were spared. In order to revoke a response, the filmmakers used the stylistic techniques of both actuality and archival footage in order to give a full documentary experience.

The students who attended this event had nothing but good things to say about the film. One student, who chose to remain anonymous, said that “it was a really eye-opening experience.” The point of the film was to evoke an emotional response from the audience, and it did just that.

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