How did I miss this in 1997!?!
Jeffery Mingo | Homewood, IL USA | 07/23/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This documentary starts with the premise that gay men and lesbians don't get along and then it attempts to answer why and if that will change or has it changed. This is an amazing work that should definitely been seen as frequently and with as much appreciation as "Before Stonewall," "Coming Out Under Fire," or the documentary on Audre Lorde.
This documentary makes no mention of John D'Emilio's essay "The Gendered 70s" in his "Making Trouble" book which already addressed this matter. Neither does it mention the 1993 Newsweek article "Lesbians: What Are the Limits of Tolerance?" that already spoke of some of this issues. Still, this work is diverse in interviewing men and women, the young and old, academics and activists, etc. The interviewees lived in the East, West, Midwest, and South. However, no rural gay men and lesbians were interviewed. This would be a good introduction to gay rights for persons of any sexuality with its interviews of Kate Clinton, Michael Signorile, Joan Nestle, etc. (I am quite surprised that Urvashi Vaid is not here because her book "Virtual Equality" also touched on this schism.) It will bring a tear to some eyes as a number of those featured have since died (Sarah Pettit, Harry Hay, Morris Kight).
This documentary is great at peeling the onion on this matter. Despite tensions, one male interviewee said he liked hanging with lesbians and another said a lesbian introduced him to an early gay rights group that was predominantly male. Importantly, the interviewees note that bigots hate both groups, even if they may target men more. Additionally, the documentary ends with mentioning lesbians caring for moribund, HIV-infected gay men and the two groups reproducing together.
As diverse as this film was, I do think gay men of color were at times absent from this documentary when they could have been present. Yes, the film does interview at least one GLM, one GBM, and one GAM. However, whereas there were numerous shots of black women in feminist marches and lesbian communes, all the clubs scenes and bath scenes of men were entirely white. The multiracial facade of the Village People or the film "Flawless" is totally absent here. Black lesbian leaders such as Mandy Carter and Nadine Smith were interviewed, but one never sees a Keith Boykin, David Eng, or Michael Nava, for example. This interviewees did a wonderful job of saying not men, but specifically white men, and often middle-class white men, had privileges in the community that others could not dream of having. Still, Eurocentricity among gay men is not as adequately addressed as it could have been. The work starts off with Illinoisan gay activist, Rick Garcia, a Latino man, saying it is easier to stick with one's own gender and class in the gay community, but he should have mentioned race as well. Chicago's gay community is just as divided among blacks and whites as the rest of the city is. Someone needs to make a documentary talking about the racial divide in gay communities.
This film does imply, "Well, what about bisexuals and the transgendered?" A documentary that looked at the monosexually gay versus bisexuals is way beyond due, despite its undoubtable explosiveness.
This documentary would be great for any women's studies or gay studies major, enthusiast, or scholar."