Important Lesbian Herstory
Jeffery Mingo | Homewood, IL USA | 02/24/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was totally disturbed when I saw the lesbian club scene in the film "Black Dahlia." There, a lesbian club is shown as huge with many lights and everyone having a good time. Every gay studies text said that being in a gay or lesbian club in the mid-20th century could have gotten you arrested, fired, and worse. Clubs were often holes in the wall because they didn't want to be noticed by others or were run by the mafia. Lesbian bar frequenters at that time were brave women taking risks. This documentary points to the realities of a lesbian club over the decades.
One interviewee said that at one time, there was only one lesbian bar in SF compared to 139 places for gay men. Many films now have lesboeroticism in that, but the number of lesbian documentaries is still small. This was a needed and appreciated intervention.
Many a documentary on gay men never mentions lesbians, but this work on lesbians did mention gay men. The work says that as gay men were fighting HIV, many lesbians began abandoning alcohol and leading healthier lives. This work spoke about the racism in gay male spots were men of color were often discouraged from being present. I salute the work's inclusiveness.
The work did address alcoholism among lesbians. They mentioned having a softball team, but I never understood who were their rivals. They presented as the only game in town. So who played against them?
The work includes interviews from Del Martin and Phyllis Lyons, two big heroines of mine. Del said something very poignant: "The only constant is change." I would be loathe to bring up the term "social construction" here, but the bar employees and patrons seemed to realize that things were changing and they welcomed it, or weren't upset that their day or scene was finishing.
The work presents San Francisco as a Gay Mecca, a Hippie Mecca, a progressive Mecca, etc. In the few years I lived in the Bay Area, I hated it with a capital (sp?) H. For people who did not enjoy that city, it may be hard to watch a documentary which praises it and shows beautiful photos from it."
Memory Lane stroll
Janice Hamilton | Brookhaven, Pa United States | 10/17/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A great video for watching what "the life" was like in the 50's era. A nicely done movie."