Stonewall Uprising

The Real Events and the Society that Spawned Them
from PBS's American Experience

Casey's Power Point Slides

Introduction to Documentary Films -- Power Point Slides (as a .ppsx Power Point file) (as a .pdf file - downloads faster)


Gay Rights Movements (as a .pdf file)

Additional Supporting Material from Stonewall Uprising's Source Book

Stonewall, The Riot That Sparked the Gay Revolution -- additional details (as a .pdf file with larger type) (as a Microsoft Word .docx file with smaller type)

Related Clips

Social context before the Stonewall Riots, 1969

For many of us, it is hard to remember how completely oppressive the culture was toward gay people before 1969. The following magazine article and two video clips will give some idea of the accepted "facts" about gay people, and how the culture interpreted those facts.

sExploitation media: Chained Girls, 1965

This movie is purportedly a documentary about Lesbianism, but is really made for the titillation (and possibly more) of straight men in the 42nd Street sex theatres in New York and their equivalent in other large cities. It is as close to outright pornography as was legal to show back then (not much by modern standards). However, such films have been de-constructed as part of film history and film studies, and they definitely are illuminating snapshots of cultural values, however unintentional. Here is an article from Bright Lights Film Journal, Chained Girls (1965): A Twilight Tale of the Third Sex.

Chained Girls, excerpts from 1965 sexploitation movie, about 4 minutes long.
This edited version just shows the purported "scientific facts", mainly there to satisfy the pornography laws of the time. Most people back then, however, would accept these "facts" as accurate, appropriate, and fairly presented.
The left box has the clip in standard .mp4 format, and the right box has the identical clip in Apple Quicktime .mov format.

Mainstream media: CBS Reports with Mike Wallace, "The Homosexuals". 1967

CBS Reports presented one of the first in-depth network television programs about homosexuality in 1967. Much like the Time Magazine article immediately below, it is reflective of its time. While trying to be "balanced", it simply reflected the deeply embedded institutionalized homophobia when it was made. Also like the Time article below, Lesbians are completely ignored. The core problem of both the Time article and this CBS program is their treatment of gay people as "the other", and not simply people like "us" within society. This program has been much reviled by Gay Rights activists ever since it came out, and Mike Wallace much later in his life apologized for it.

CBS Reports, "The Homosexuals", excerpts from 1967 network television program, about 9 3/4 minutes long.
This edited version starts with a sympathetic presentation of how Draconian the laws were back then (except Illinois, of course), and then follows with an extended intercut "debate" between Gore Vidal and a homophobic Columbia University professor. The homophobic professor gets the last word, of course. Notice how Gore Vidal can't even identify Tennessee Williams by name.
The left box has the clip in standard .mp4 format, and the right box has the identical clip in Apple Quicktime .mov format.

YouTube version of the entire program: CBS Reports with Mike Wallace, "The Homosexuals"

Mainstream media: Time Magazine, "The Homosexual in America", October 31, 1969

Time Magazine's cover story on "The Homosexual in America" is a pretty good gauge of the standard thought at the time. If you go to the "discussion" at the end, you'll see that some people, like Frank Kameny (one of the great Gay Rights pioneers), totally get it, while other "experts", such as Dr. Charles Socarides, are just homophobes in academic disguise. Notice also that even though the title states "Homosexual", almost everything is about gay males. Lesbians were almost completely ignored. This article is dated October 31st, 1969, four months after the Stonewall Riots and on Halloween, the gay holiday! I wonder of editors at Time realized the irony.

Time Magazine, "The Homosexual in America", October 31, 1969 (as a .pdf file)

Another Documentary that You Might Enjoy:

Before Stonewall

    Before Stonewall (1984)

New York Times review of Before Stonewall:

Documentary about gay life before 1969. One of the earliest explorations of the subject and still one of the best. Followed by a companion documentary After Stonewall in 1999.

People, Protest, and Progress: Recent Documentaries About LGBT Lives and History

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Casey Sutherland, Study Group Facilitator
Scott Badman, Study Group Facilitator