Stonewall Outloud Brings The Voices Of The Past To Life In Remarkable New Documentary
On June 28, 1969, the New York Police Department raided The Stonewall Inn, in Greenwich Village, New York City. Before that night, The Stonewall Inn was a place of refuge and freedom for the gay community. It was a time of extreme oppression and bigotry. It was a time when there was a sometimes fatal price to pay for same-sex relationships whether it was through social discrimination or police violence and harassment. Like very few places that existed in New York, The Stonewall Inn was a home where the LGBTQ community could find a haven.
It wasn’t unusual for the New York City Police Department to conduct raids, simply for being gay, which would often send patrons fleeing. That was until June 28, 1969, when patrons rose up, fought back, and stood their ground, affirming their right for a place in society, unknowingly defining the roots of LGBTQ movement. It’s easy to forget how far we have come and how far we still have to go.
Stonewall Outloud is a new documentary from filmmakers Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, founders of World of Wonder, which takes us back to 1969, bringing to life the accounts of the patrons of The Stonewall Inn.
Through Davy Isay’s StoryCorps archival material, Bailey and Barbato take personal accounts and rare recordings to recall the events leading up to that night. We hear the voices of the pioneers. The voices of Marsha P. Johnson, Bruhs Mero and Gean Harwood. We hear from Sylvia Rivera and Randy Wicker. Together they transport us as they examine life in the LGBTQ community before the night of, and the night leading up to June 28, 1969.
In an extraordinary and innovative way of documentary storytelling, Bailey and Barbato assemble a cast that includes Lance Bass, Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, Fortune Feimster, Daniel Franzese, Jinkx Monsoon and Adam Rippon to tell the story of Stonewall Outloud through lipsyncing. The original recordings are retold as these actors and public figures voice and embody the heroes and heroines of that day. You’re not watching Bass or Rippon- you’re submerged into the voice you’re hearing, and transported back to 1969, New York at The Stonewall Inn. Not only is Stonewall Outloud engrossing and groundbreaking, but it is also thoroughly moving to hear the voices and recollections from that night while David Benjamin Steinberg’s ticking score adds a sense of dramatic urgency to the compelling story.
The documentary serves as an inspiration and call that even fifty years later, we still have a long fight ahead. It is an ever-needed reminder of those who came before us. It serves as an education, learning about what it was like to be inside Stonewall and why there were mirrors in bars. Stonewall and the names of those fighters not only remind us of why we celebrate Pride every year but also of the legacy that would propel the modern LGBTQ movement as we know it. Stonewall Outloud engraves the names of those who started the riots. We hear the voices of LGBTQ heroes who spoke up for us so that we could have same-sex marriage. None of this would exist without the pioneers who broke ground on June 28, 1969. Stonewall Outloud thoroughly captures just how impactful that night was.
Fifty years ago, the powerful and fearless fought for our right to exist. They suffered through assaults, violence and oppression. They lived in fear. Fifty Years ago, this week, they rose up. Stonewall Outloud is a celebration and a portrait of the gay liberation and civil rights movement. Fifty years ago, The Stonewall Inn marked the first Pride. This week, take a moment to watch Stonewall Outloud and remember not to take anything for granted for there is much work to be done.
Stonewall Outloud premieres June 28th on the World of Wonder YouTube Channel, WOWPresents.