I just learned that on June 1st of last year Barack Obama proclaimed June to be LGBT Pride month in the United States. I’m surprised that that didn’t get more controversy at the time. Shows quite a bit of progress, actually.
On the subject of the LGBT struggle for civil rights, I remember seeing an art show a couple of years ago about the 1973 fire at the Upstairs Lounge, a gay bar that used to be in the French Quarter. That show was the first I had ever heard about it. The Upstairs Lounge Fire remains the deadliest fire in New Orleans history, and one of the worst hate crimes ever perpetrated against gay people. It is an important and terribly overlooked bit of LGBT and New Orleans history.
Anyway, this being the last day of LGBT pride month, it would be appropriate to go on over to Zeitgeist where they are showing a double feature of gay themed films. First, at 7:30, is Stonewall Uprising, a documentary about the riots at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village on June 28, 1969. That series of riots is largely held as the beginning of the modern gay liberation movement, the first time gay people in the United States fought back against the socially and politically sanctioned discrimination against them.
Then, at 9:30 is the lost films of Charles Ludlam Museum of Wax and The Sorrows of Delores. I had never heard of him before, here is what Zeitgeist has to say about it all:
THE LOST FILMS OF CHARLES LUDLAM. Zeitgeist is extremely honored to present THE SORROWS OF DOLORESand MUSEUM OF WAX, the rare 16mm films by the legendary gay playwright and director Charles Ludlam. Charles Ludlam carved out a career staging gender-bending gothic satires with his groundbreaking Ridiculous Theatrical Company, influencing countless drag performers like Charles Busch. He is best known for his play The Mystery of Irma Vep, which has been staged by hundreds of repertory theaters across the globe. THE SORROWS OF DOLORES is a feature based on early silent serials like The Perils of Pauline, while the MUSEUM OF WAXis a short horror film starring Ludlam. Both films feature regular Ridiculous cast members like Everett Quinton, Minette, “Crazy Arthur” Kraft, Lola Pashilinski, John D. Brockmeyer, and Black-Eyed Susan. Begun in the late 1970s and still uncompleted at the time of Ludlam’s death from AIDS in 1987, these films have only been screened 3 or 4 times for private audiences until after decades they were digitally transferred and screened for the first time publicly at the IFC Film Center in New York this February through the efforts of gay filmmaker Ira Sachs and singer Anthony Hergaty of Anthony and the Johnsons. In honor of the anniversary of Stonewall, we thought it would be a “riot” to screen these lost films for three nights. This is only the second time these films are being screened publicly. This is a major once in a lifetime opportunity. Not to be missed. This program is presented through the generous support of the John Burton Harter Charitable Trust.