"Bigotry is ugly. It is especially ugly when it poses as virtue."
June 12, 2011 7:42 AM   Subscribe

Rights And Reactions: Lesbian & Gay Rights On Trial is a 1987 documentary about the culmination in 1986 of the struggle to pass "Intro 2", the New York City "Gay Rights Bill", which prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation in matters of housing, employment, and public accommodation. Made by Phil Zwickler and Jane Lippman, it is available in 3 Quicktime segments: Part 1 (22m), Part 2 (19m), Part 3 (16m). Total running time: 56m.

Much more information about the film from the Phil Zwickler Charitable and Memorial Foundation Trust website.
posted by hippybear (12 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
"Never can say goodbye...no, no, no, no..."
posted by telstar at 10:53 AM on June 12, 2011

Homosexuals are men who in fifteen years of trying cannot pass a pissant anti-discrimination bill through City Council. Homosexuals are men who know nobody and who nobody knows. Who have zero clout.
posted by orthogonality at 1:30 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Not quite sure what you're going on about there, orthogonality. The bill passed in 1986, even though it took 15 years. And now 25 years later NY may pass a gay marriage bill, after several attempts. If the case was in the past that nobody knew them and they knew nobody, that's because of generations of being forced into a closeted life of fear and shame. We've finally grown beyond that and homosexuals are stepping forward to claim their place at the table along with everyone else.

Or do you have something else in mind with what you wrote? Is that a quote from the film which I overlooked?
posted by hippybear at 1:42 PM on June 12, 2011

[it's a quote from Angels in America]

Thanks for this hippybear, have downloaded the three parts and will watch later.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 1:51 PM on June 12, 2011

Ah, thanks for the clarificaiton, ClarissaWAM. I haven't managed to memorize that giant work, so it was escaping me.
posted by hippybear at 1:58 PM on June 12, 2011

Thanks for this, hippybear. I have not been in NY at the time of this, back in the '86, so it's interesting to see this. Coincidentally, I just got back from the Gay Pride 11 in WeHo. I went with my wife and a good friend (also straight). I've been going for years. It's interesting to see just how things have been changing. There hasn't been anything subversive about it for a long time now. Banks (B of A, Wells Fargo), large companies (Raytheon! Macy's), grocery chains (WHF, Gelsons, etc.) and a ton others have their own floats/walks, along with media companies etc. The usual political presence and so forth.

What was interesting, is that every other year I've attended, every politician who appears gets cheered. This year was very different - maybe it was the particular crowd I was in, at the start of the parade route - but many, many got actually booed! Mayor Villaraigosa - booed. Obama people - booed. Even Zev Yaroslavsky - booed. Now, not everyone booed, but enough did, so that it made for some uncomfortable moments. In years past, it seemed that people were grateful for any politician to show their face at a Gay Pride parade - but, and maybe this is a sign of political maturing - it's not enough anymore. Now, it's not enough to whore for votes and then ignore the constituency when the time comes to act or pay a political price. Now, they're being held to account - at least a little. The same for personalities that are seen as simply taking a ride exploiting the community, or resting on old laurels (and so, Gloria Allred - the lawyer - got booed).

Or maybe people were cranky, because the weather was kinda grey and cloudy here in LA (last year was scorching hot).

Still, you look at those documentaries, and compare to today, and while there's been some political movement, there's been a huge social change - or so it seems here in WeHo.
posted by VikingSword at 3:50 PM on June 12, 2011

VikingSword: when I watch a documentary like this, I'm amazed I ever came out at all (which I finally did in 1990). The amount of vitriol and hate pouring out of some people in the middle of official political meetings... I thought long and hard about whether to put a trigger warning on this documentary, as I found watching it to be troublesome at times.

We also had Pride here in Spokane yesterday, and in this area it still feels like a subversive and brave act to even show up for it. We had more than a few Queer But Not GLBT groups marching... the local BDSM community had a hetero/homo group marching, and the local burlesque caberet troupe was also present with both gay and straight members. There were a bunch of Open And Affirming churches marching, and a couple of political candidates (marching in an off-year: good for them!)... plus the high school group from the school where Dan Savage's husband attended years ago also was present (and receiving lots of loud cheers).

I can only dream of the days when we have a real corporate presence at the Pride march here. Or even a contingent of the police marching -- and they're constantly getting into legal troubles because cops are at the gay bars and then doing (illegal) things to cover up their presence there...

Still, considering that only 7 years ago the parade was a few dozen people and the entire attendance at Pride was maybe a couple of hundred people... Spokane is doing pretty excellently as far as progress goes.

I'd love it if you had some kind of program or official list of participating organizations in the WeHo parade that you could forward to me to use as leverage to get more official participation from places like BofA or Macy's. They're such huge commercial presences in the community -- it would be excellent to make them be social presences, also.

But yeah, I agree with you. Watching this particular documentary is startling and eye-opening. I wish the kids from that Po-Mo Toronto Queer article would watch this, so they'd have some idea about how far we've come even within their lifetimes. They'd maybe not be so complacent about their place in the world if they had the kind of context this provides.
posted by hippybear at 4:34 PM on June 12, 2011

PM'd you, hippybear. I'm a bit surprised that Spokane is so sparse wrt. LGBT official presence. On the other hand, I regularly remind myself that WeHo and San Francisco (places I hang out at a lot) are not exactly representative. It's easy to forget that I'm living in a bit of a bubble, and invariably I'm shocked to witness stuff like anti-abortion billboards by the roadside not far out of the big cities even here in California. I was flabbergasted to see a McCain bumper sticker on a car in the parking lot of my local TJ's - you just never see such stickers around these parts... I walked up closer - the car was from Texas.

We take so much for granted. I walked back from the parade up along Sunset, and the three of us were wearing various pins, stickers and wristbands in the rainbow flag colors. We sat down at a Russian Deli for a meal. Nobody hassled us or gave us a dirty look - my friend remarked, that this would not have been the case twenty years ago, you could easily have been beaten up... and it's still the reality in a lot of the country today.
posted by VikingSword at 6:38 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm a bit surprised that Spokane is so sparse wrt. LGBT official presence.

It's not surprising once you realize that the prevailing attitude here is "if you're queer, run to the city". It's actually not that different from the attitude I've had expressed in my direction by MeFites, actually... Direct surprise that I might choose to live someplace other than one of the Approved Coastal Liberal Urban Enclaves and might find value in living someplace which isn't NYC or SF or Seattle.

Only here in the Spokane area, it's expressed by the queer community toward anyone who seeks to live a life of honest openness about being queer. If you're "that type" you'd best get out of here to a place where they can deal with your type. If you want to stay around this place, you'd best learn to put your head down, never make waves, and learn to internalize the idea that "it's none of their business".

It's all kind of sad, this community-wide acceptance and institutionalization of the closet. I'm firmly of the mindset that unless communities this size or smaller have a visible queer population, they'll never learn to grow out of their bigotry. It's long been the standard view of the GLBT community that the closet promotes the closet, and that only having Out people in a community will cause the hate to recede. I happen to like smaller communities and the things they have to offer, so I'm willing to live here and deal with the bullshit which accompanies it when it comes to my sexual orientation. That doesn't mean I don't wish it gone. I'd rather live in a small town which lets me leave my doors unlocked much of the time and work toward eliminating the causal homophobia of the people at the grocery store, hoping that someday they won't care who I fuck, and hoping that their not-caring will eventually happen because I've decided to remain here rather than running away.

But overall, if you're in Eastern Washington and you're queer, as soon as you get the chance you run away like a scared little puppydog hoping that you'll find happiness in the anonymity of Sea-Tac. The result is, it's taken until 2011 for Pride to be something which has a glimmer of being a real political force in the community, and the whole event is still controversial enough to be picketed by church groups.

Thanks for the MeMail. I'll be using that list for the next year. Maybe we'll see even more of a change here by 2012.
posted by hippybear at 7:17 PM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Oh my god. Watching the crowd actually boo the 75 year old life-partners of 50 years is so difficult. First I feel angry, then sad, then helpless. I just saw the Normal Heart a few days ago. Heartbreaking.
posted by prefpara at 8:29 PM on June 12, 2011

Oh, holy cow, this was the first issue I ever got politically active about. I was in college at the time at NYU and spent a lot of time on it, wrote (wretched) papers about it and all that. Thanks for posting the links.
posted by bink at 11:02 PM on June 12, 2011

It was my pleasure to have known and worked with Phil Zwickler. As one of his producers, I helped to instruct him in his early efforts in video production (music videos, corporate, etc.).

He was fiercely committed to every effort he undertook, and never backed down from any of his deeply held principles.

He was also funny as hell, and unashamed to reveal his emotions, however painful some may have been.

Let's keep his memory alive.
posted by joetrip at 6:12 AM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

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