In June of 1978, a filmmaker named Gary Davis armed with a Bolex H16 camera and a cassette recorder, set out to document the Gay Pride Day celebrations in Washington D.C. The result was a unique two-roll documentary capturing the spirit of the LGBTQ+ community during a time when visibility was still a rarity.
Shot on 16mm short film, the footage, which recently started recirulating online, captures the vibrant and colorful atmosphere of Pride, offering a glimpse into the early years of the LGBTQ+ movement when the community was still fighting for basic rights and visibility.
The clip opens with a man speaking about the GAA (Gay Activist Alliance) of Washington and the group’s plans to raise awareness around educating people on gay issues and what “gays are all about.”
This was in response to various initiatives and referendums that had been held around the country at the time, resulting in gay rights being removed in four cities. The man speaks of a poster project the group is working on, with plans to have over 250 metro buses adorned with posters promoting queer visibility.
The spirit of resilience and celebration is powerful, with shots of people decorated in flowers and glitter face paint on their faces, speeches to the crowd, $1 haircuts for all, drag queens, and dancing in the streets.
In addition to the visual footage, the documentary is accompanied by music from Casse Culver with the song “What We Gonna Do (About Anita),” adding an extra layer of emotion to the film with the lyrics “All the gay people down by the sea / Loving each other with plans to be free / Anita Bryant says ‘I want you all to disappear’ / ‘Go back in the closet to live in fear’ / Oh, what are we going to do?”
Despite the challenges of filming with limited equipment, the filmmaker was able to produce a final version with color film finished with an optical soundtrack. The result is a testament to the filmmaker’s dedication to capturing this moment in history and preserving it for future generations.
The history of Pride celebrations dates back to the Stonewall riots of 1969 when members of the LGBTQ+ community fought back against police harassment at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. The event sparked a movement and inspired the first Pride march in New York City the following year.
Since then, Pride celebrations have taken place around the world as a way to commemorate the struggle for LGBTQ+ rights and celebrate the diversity of the community. Davis’s documentary captures a moment in time when the LGBTQ+ community was fighting for acceptance and equality, providing a unique window into the early years of the movement.
Today, we can appreciate the importance of this footage in documenting the LGBTQ+ community’s history, celebrate the progress made, and acknowledge that there is still much work to be done in fighting for a more just and equal society, remembering the struggles of those who came before us and honor their legacy by continuing to fight for a better future for all.
Back to the year I graduated H.S.. Have to wonder how many in this film survived the AIDS epidemic.
I thought the same thing watching this charming clip. Also I marvelled how friendly and positive people. Thank you Queerty for sharing this.
Reason being….everyone was present. No cell phones. Cameras were used to take photos of OTHER people, not yourself and DC throws the best outdoor parties. Recall the Highheel races in front of Annies on 17th? OMG.
Bill Line Obit. Seeing this and then googling him has shocked me. I knew him in the late 80’s. RIP BILL!
Bill Line, National Park Service, Washington Blade, gay news
Bill Line, National Parks Service, Washington Blade, gay news
Bill Line, Chief spokesperson for the National Park Service’s National Capital Region was 56. (Photo courtesy of the National Park Service)
Bill Line, chief spokesperson for the National Park Service’s National Capital Region since 2001 and a longtime member of the LGBT Catholic group Dignity Washington, died Oct. 7 in his D.C. apartment. He was 56.
D.C. police have classified the death as a suicide.
N.J. GOVERNOR DECLARES ‘SAFE HAVEN’ FOR TRANSGENDER, NONBINARY PEOPLE
Line’s death stunned his co-workers and a wide circle of friends. Some said he told them of his ongoing struggle with depression but assured them he was persevering by immersing himself in the work he loved.
“Bill was a caring, compassionate person who loved the National Park Service and particularly the parks of greater Washington, D.C.,” said Park Service spokesperson David Barna. “His charming presence and selfless dedication will be missed by all.”
Often appearing before TV cameras in a park ranger’s uniform and ranger’s hat, Line became the “face and voice of the national parks in the Washington, D.C. area,” Barna said.
In addition to overall park issues, Line was the main news media contact person for the annual blooming of the cherry blossoms along the Tidal Basin, the Fourth of July fireworks over the National Mall, the lighting of the National Christmas Tree behind the White House, presidential inaugurations, and Memorial Day and Veterans Day celebrations, according to a Park Service statement.
Prior to joining the National Park Service, Line worked for the National Science Foundation and served as a reporter and producer for several news media outlets, including NBC and Fox News.
Rick Lynch, Dignity Washington’s office manager, said in a statement that Line joined the LGBT Catholic organization in 1984.
“During his early years with Dignity Washington Bill served on our board of directors, and for much of the rest of his time with us, he was a member of our beautiful choir at Sunday Mass,” Lynch said.
Friends said he was born and raised in Wisconsin. Lynch said he was preceded in death in recent years by his mother and father and is survived by two sisters and two brothers.
A funeral service was expected to be held in Wisconsin. Dignity Washington President Daniel Barutta said Dignity will hold a memorial service for Line at 2 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 2 at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, 1830 Connecticut Ave., N.W.
Fname Optional Lname
Killed himself with a knife? ouch– It says he threw himself into his work and that helped deflect from what he was dealing with internally. He passed on 2012 and it’s sad that we still feel like we have to hide what’s going on. Sad.
Fname, fname, fname…….no one can make you feel anything.
Bill Line was the first man to speak in this video.
Not exactly a bevy of beauties, but seems they’re having fun.
What makes you tick?
That’s odd. Beauty was the only thing I saw.
Wow. Just, wow.
I can’t believe this shallow comment. These people were your pioneers.
you’re a nasty ahole.
So cool! Thank you for this!
P Street Beach
P Street Station
10 Inch Records.
Third Day Plant Shop.
The Fruit Loop
Kramer Books And After Words
Food For Thought
Thanks for sharing this sweet, beautiful video. All of those folks were so courageous to be out and proud at a time when being gay was absolutely not trendy or cute in most parts of the world. Evil idiots like Anita Bryant were out there on hate campaigns to attack gay/lesbian people and create legislation to specifically deny them of their rights and gay people faced hatred and discrimination on a routine basis. It’s frightening to see that the U.S. is experiencing the same attacks on our freedoms, rights and very existence by a group of maniacal, deranged conservatives.
Man About Town
I was there! I actually remember that particular pride day. Would’ve been quite bizarre to see me in the video but I don’t think I do, though I had the same haircut as many of these guys.
Oh, and abfab? I remember all of those wonderful places you listed, especially Annie’s and Lambda Rising. Thanks!
You’re welcome. : )
it must have been so much fun when AIDS wasn’t hovering over everyone.
It was. What’s your point?
Sorry, I misread your comment.
This short actually brought tears to my eyes.
The good old days, where you did not have to grow muscle or have tatoo to be hot!