Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Knight at the Movies: Stonewall Uprising
by Richard Knight, Jr.

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

The Stonewall riots, the beginning of the gay-rights movement in this country, are similar to other singular moments in history in that many of the details of what exactly happened—when and how it happened, as well as who was involved—have become buried within the momentousness of the incident itself. We mark June 28 each year, but beyond the overview about what occurred in that tatty little bar in New York called the Stonewall Inn more than 40 years ago, much has become blurred.

There have been other documentaries and examinations of the riots that ensued when the disenfranchised patrons of that little bar fought back after the cops came in for one of their regular raids. But Stonewall Uprising—the documentary by the husband-and-wife filmmaking team Kate Davis and David Heilbroner, based on the David Carter book Stonewall: The Riots that Sparked the Gay Revolution—attempts to present the details and the timeline of the events of June 28, 1969, itself.

The movie utilizes eyewitness testimony; the scant extant footage and photos, recreation and "educational" period films; and other clips of the era to dramatize what happened. That the result is, ironically, a bit unfocused as it lays out the details of the crucial first night of the riots doesn't prevent it from being an important addition to Our gay cinematic history. And for the uninformed, there is much here that will illuminate the incident that was the epicenter of Our movement.

Davis and Heilbroner remind us at the outset that homosexual acts were a crime nationwide ( except within our fair state ) in 1969, when the riots occurred. With that fact in mind, we proceed to an overview of the plight of gay Americans during the '50s and '60s leading up to Stonewall. An almost invisible population shunned, reviled, openly hunted and subjected to horrendous psychological and physical persecution with almost a religious fervor when discovered by the public at large, it's no wonder that, as writer Eric Marcus comments, for gay people " [ t ] here was no 'out.' There was just in."

Slowly, urban centers—especially Greenwich Village in Manhattan—became meccas for gays and lesbians. But even in these liberal pockets queers weren't embraced. As another participant in the film recalls, "It was free but not quite free enough for us." Segregated into mafia-owned bars, the "twilight people" ( who only came out at night ) nevertheless endured and, as the film reveals, a perfect storm of circumstances coalesced on that fateful night ( and for several nights—accounts vary as to how many—thereafter ) .

Throughout the movie the various talking heads provide a wealth of reminisces but, maddeningly, the filmmakers provide little or no background on these participants so it's often hard to place them in context ( and it doesn't help that after a quick graphic with a name and sometimes a designation like "writer," "historian," etc., the talking heads are never identified again ) .

Two of the on-camera subjects, however, are easy to recall: Seymour Pine, the 90-year-old "morals inspector" who led the raid for the cops and the former New York City Mayor Ed Koch—both of whom are given a lot more camera time than seems necessary. ( Also, why the hell it was important to include Koch, longtime enemy of Our People, is beyond me; it's not like he's needed for balance. )

Most powerful, of course, are the memories of the gay people who were there. At one point, one of them, John O'Brien, comments about the half dozen or so cops trapped inside the Stonewall Inn with the growing, angry mob outside: "It must have been terrifying for them. I hope it was." O'Brien's fury is still fresh after 41 years. In moments like that Stonewall Uprising transcends its sometimes fuzzy construction and the spark that ignited a revolution becomes tremendously palpable and galvanizing.

Get Low

"'Bout time for me to get low," Robert Duvall as Felix Bush, a hated and feared backwoods hermit says to a speechless Bill Murray and Lucas Black, as Frank Quinn, a slick funeral home director and Buddy, his naïve, eager to prove himself assistant. After 40 years alone on his land, Felix wants to have a funeral party while he's still alive and for everyone in the county to come and share their stories about him. Felix's unusual request sets in motion one of the most pleasurable movies of the year.

Set in the late South in the 1930s, Get Low—from director Aaron Schneider ( making his feature debut ) and writers Chris Provenzano and C. Gaby Mitchell—finds us deep within Eudora Welty-Truman Capote-Harper Lee territory and the richly constructed characters, period detail and the compelling story, based on a real incident, offer the equally rich cast the chance to act their heads off.

Leading them all is Duvall as the eccentric Felix, giving one of those legendary performances that can only come after decades of legendary performances. ( Even his breathing has gravitas. ) He is matched in scene after scene by Murray ( delightfully droll ) ; Sissy Spacek, whose character has an old, mysterious connection to Felix; and the one actor who gives Duvall a run for his money—a stubborn mule ( literally ) who has shared Felix's self-imposed hibernation on his backwoods land. As the gigantic party approaches complications arise, lives are transformed, old hurts trotted out and the mystery deepens.

At one point Felix comments about his vast land holdings, "You leave things alone, they'll know what to do"—perfectly stating the theme of the film, the trust that the director places in his cast and perhaps more importantly, his audience. Like Felix and that stubborn mule, Get Low moves at its own measured, confident pace, intensifying your responses to it as it progresses ( like falling in love ) . It's one of those rare film experiences that both everyday moviegoers and longtime film critics like myself hope for each time the lights go down. It reminded me of the essential joy and transformative power that many great movies share ( and that almost always take me by surprise ) , and I was delighted and moved from beginning to end by this aptly self-described "true tall tale."

Check out my archived reviews at or . Readers can leave feedback at the latter website

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Chicago Filmmakers to participate in Masterwork: Industry Conversations series 2020-10-22
--From a press release - (Chicago, IL) Chicago Filmmakers is pleased to announce two new editions of Masterwork: Industry Conversations, a series of virtual interviews with long established and award-winning filmmakers followed by a Q&A ...

Gay News

'V for Vendetta' at Music Box; includes talk with Wachowski 2020-10-22
- The 15th-anniversary theatrical re-release of V for Vendetta, which now includes bonus content—a 13-minute, pre-recorded conversation with director James McTeigue and writer/producer Lana Wachowski—will run at the Music Box Theatre ...

Gay News

Trans films at Chicago International Film Festival 2020-10-22
- The 56th Chicago International Film Festival illuminates varying gender norms—in childhood, adolescence and old age—now through Sunday, Oct. 25 as part of the Festival's "Out-Look" LGBTQ+ programming. Three feature films ...

Gay News

Billy Masters 2020-10-21
- "I think it's important to find a way, all of us, to move on and fly away from this subject onto something else."—Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris responding to Rachel Maddow asking if she saw the ...

Gay News

MOVIES Ruby Rose talks new film 'The Doorman,' LGBTQ actors 2020-10-18
- In the new movie The Doorman, out actress Ruby Rose (TV's Orange Is the New Black and Batwoman; movies such as John Wick: Chapter 2 and Pitch Perfect 3) stars as the titular character in an ...

Gay News

Alliance of Illinois Judges hosting 'Coming Out Stories' 2020-10-14
- In celebration of National Coming Out Day (which took place Oct. 11), the Alliance of Illinois Judges (AIJ) unveiled the short film Coming Out Stories. Coming Out Stories features members of the judiciary sharing coming out ...

Gay News

Matthew-Lee Erlbach talks Be An #ArtsHero, career, other endeavors 2020-10-14
- Writer, actor and filmmaker Matthew-Lee Erlbach is on a mission to get financial relief to the many arts workers and institutions impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Erlbach is calling on U.S. senators to sponsor the DAWN ...

Gay News

Director's cut of 'But I'm a Cheerleader' will be out Dec. 8 2020-10-12
- People can celebrate the 20th anniversary of a classic lesbian film when But I'm a Cheerleader: Director's Cut arrives on Digital 4K Ultra HD on Dec. 8, from Lionsgate. From Primetime Emmy-nominated director Jamie Babbit ...

Gay News

Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival names winners 2020-10-12
--From a press release - (Chicago, IL) Reeling is pleased to announce the winners of the 38th annual Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival. The festival was held virtually this year from September 24 to October 7. The event included ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Diversity report, Zachary Quinto, 'Schitt's Creek,' Mariah Carey 2020-10-12
- In a new report from the UCLA-based Center for Scholars and Storytellers titled "Beyond Checking A Box: A Lack of Authentically Inclusive Representation Has Costs at the Box Office," researchers found that bringing authentic diversity to ...

Gay News

Pride Fall Film Festival Oct. 12 2020-10-07
- Eight short films, including work by new directors, some using new technology (iPhone 11, Filmic Pro), in explore sexual orientation and gender identity across cultures and among male and female-identifying ...

Gay News

Filmmaker Ric Burns explores life of neurologist/writer Oliver Sacks 2020-10-06
- For documentarian Ric Burns, whose work includes New York: A Documentary Film, American Ballet Theatre and VA: The Human Cost of War (and who co-produced and co-wrote The Civil War), the tumultuous life of gay neurologist ...

Gay News

Billy Masters 2020-09-30
- "It's terrifying. It's scary. We have to get out and vote."—Lil Nas X's response to the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Michael Bloomberg has found a way to help Joe Biden get more votes in Florida: ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Bradley Cooper, Spice Girls, greatest albums, film 'The Glorias' 2020-09-29
- Bradley Cooper has found his onscreen partner and a new title—Maestro—for the Leonard Bernstein film he will star in and direct for Netflix, Deadline reported. Carey Mulligan has been cast as Felicia Montealegre Cohn Bernstein, wife ...

Gay News

Reeling 2020 Reviews 2020-09-29
- For complete festival information and to buy tickets, visit Ratings are on a **** scale but I'm a tough grader, so nothing gets over ***. Note: This year's installment of Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International ...


Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Submit an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Privacy Policy     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.