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Documentary about transgender women and drag queens who fought police harassment at Compton's Cafeteria in San Francisco's Tenderloin in 1966, three years before the famous riot at Stonewall Inn bar in NYC.
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Who could have guessed that a bunch of men in dresses would breath life into the movement to win equal rights for gay men and lesbians? Certainly not the police who raided the Stonewall Inn, a popular "drag" bar in Greenwich Village. After a long history of police raids, extortion, and brutality, a gaggle of drag queens at the Stonewall decide they have had enough and begin to riot when the police try to load them into a paddy wagon. Told by "La Miranda" (Hector), a regular customer at the Stonewall Inn, the film is a recounting of events that led up to that fateful day in 1969. "Matty Dean" is the handsome angry young man that La Miranda meets at the Stonewall one day and with whom she/he quickly falls in love. "Bostonia" is the self-styled Queen Mother of the drag queens and guides each initiate gently "into the life." Her lover, Vinnie, is the closeted proprietor of the Stonewall. His tragic response to the suffocation he feels bearing down on him from a homophobic world -- perhaps... Written by
Mark Fleetwood <email@example.com>
Events leading up to the Gay Uprising of 1969--told in connect-the-dots fashion
A young gay man from the sticks comes to New York City in 1969 hoping for a better life, but finds the homosexual lifestyle just as stifled in the big city under police pressure, corruption and harassment. The legendary gay riots near the Stonewall Inn take up just five minutes of the film's running-time, the final five minutes. This low-budget, brightly-colored film is more interested in the lives that would soon be affected by the riots than in the aftermath of the violence--and so we get stock characters like the naive blond cowboy, the underworld group controlling the club, the straight-seeming activists for a Homosexual Alliance, and lots and lots of drag queens. Director Nigel Finch seems to make a concerted effort to equate homosexuality with drag behavior, and drag behavior with (ultimately) prostitution. Perhaps this was true of the times, but Finch's presentation (though not campy) has cartoonish leanings and nostalgic overtures that don't express anything more than what most people already realize: the cops were corrupt, the gays were not saints, and they clashed. There's a good movie to be made about Stonewall, but this one just scratches the surface. There are some sweet moments (a sing-along on a bus, a dance between a drag queen and a gay conservative), but just as many scenes where the tone intended hasn't a hope in hell of coming through. ** from ****
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