Before Stonewall

Film Review by Scotty McKellar | 05 Jun 2009
  • Before Stonewall
Film title: Before Stonewall
Director: Greta Schiller, John Scagliotti
Starring: Allen Ginsberg, Rita Mae Brown, Ann Bannon
Release date: 22 Jun
Certificate: E

The Stonewall riots in 1969 were a turning point for the gay movement in Western society, and lead to the beginning of pride marches and increasing visibility and acceptance for homosexuals. Before then, however, it was dark times indeed. Through personal interviews and archive footage, Before Stonewall chronicles the American gay experience from the 1920s onwards, a revealing insight into a time when there was no visible gay presence in society and individuals were seemingly isolated and alone. It’s fascinating stuff, filled with fantastic and inspiring real life stories, particularly regarding the often-overlooked lesbian movement. Something so all encompassing, however, is almost inevitably going to suffer from a lack of focus. Also, an exclusively American viewpoint and occasionally dry material make it less accessible than similar features. But the quality of the interviews and personal reflections of activists and people just trying to live their lives shine through. Thank God for Stonewall and the bravery of the people who put everything on the line for liberty and love.