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Before Stonewall (1984)

Unrated  |   |  Documentary, History  |  27 June 1985 (USA)
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The history of the Gay and Lesbian community before the Stonewall riots began the major gay rights movement.

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Complete credited cast:
Rita Mae Brown ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Maua Adele Ajanaku ...
Herself - activist and teacher
Red Jordan Arobateau ...
Himself - writer
Herself - university professor
Lisa Ben ...
Herself - former secretary
Gladys Bentley ...
Herself - Nightclub Singer (voice) (archive footage)
Ivy Bottini ...
Herself - former housewife, co-founder N.Y. N.O.W.
George Buse ...
Himself - newspaper reporter, former Army Chaplain
Carroll Davis ...
Himself - performer
Martin Duberman ...
Himself - historian and playwright
Grant Gallup ...
Barbara Gittings ...
Herself - gay activist
Barbara Grier ...
Herself - publisher
Mabel Hampton ...
Herself - dancer, former domestic worker


New York City's Stonewall Inn is regarded by many as the site of gay and lesbian liberation since it was at this bar that drag queens fought back against police June 27-28, 1969. This documentary uses extensive archival film, movie clips and personal recollections to construct an audiovisual history of the gay community before the Stonewall riots. Written by Ed Stephan <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Activists for Gay and Lesbian Rights in Historical Context. See more »


Unrated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

27 June 1985 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Before Stonewall: The Making of a Gay and Lesbian Community  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


(some images in black and white)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Features Salomé (1922) See more »


The Stars and Stripes Forever
Music by John Philip Sousa
Played during the boot camp sequence
See more »

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User Reviews

THE documentary to watch
9 February 2011 | by See all my reviews

Before Stonewall is a unique piece because it was made in 1984, 15 years after Stonewall: It was still fresh in people's memory, it wasn't so long before.

Above all, it means that the people interviewed in the program were old enough to remember what the 20-30s were like, remember an experience in the army during the Second World War, remember life as a young gay person in the fifties. Most of those people wouldn't be able to be interviewed today: Most probably died of old age and many probably died of the greatest tragedy to ever affect the gay community a bit after the documentary was made: the aids epidemic.

Thus this documentary is invaluable to anyone interested in gay history, and one can really feel grateful that it was made back then, that someone decided to collect all those memories and amazing life experiences, or they would have been lost for ever.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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