“The Last Dance Raid”
A Forgotten Story
I recently heard about a movie in production that looks at an early gay rights protest after a police raid in 1965. Being gay in San Francisco in 1965 was a crime and the police doled out their own kind of justice. On January 1, 1965 at California Hall, a rented space on Polk Avenue, a Mardi Gras costume ball was about to take place. It was to be a fundraiser and was regarded as a coming-out party for the gay culture of the city. This was to be the first time that gays were going to reveal themselves publicly and politically. In effect, the party was really not much more than a gay drag ball but progressive Christian ministers who were actually part of the civil rights movement served on the organizing committee. There were other committee members from the early gay rights movement. The police decided to stage a rid and nothing was ever the same again.
The film uses intergenerational storytelling to show how powerful this event was in our history. What happened that night brought gay rights into politics. Del Martin and Phyllis Lyons tell us about their meetings with the San Francisco Police Department. Herb Donaldson, San Francisco’s first openly gay judge, was arrested for obstructing a police officer. When the news of the raid was published in the paper, Jon Borset lost his job. These are just a few of the people who were involved that night, a night that would change history forever. What is especially important here is that religion entered the struggle for gay rights—here were faith based efforts promoting “a truly just and tolerant society in the United States”.
“The Mardi Gras Costume Ball was a fundraiser for the Council on Religion and the Homosexual, the world’s first ecumenical organization devoted to promoting gay civil rights issues in American culture, and in the life of Protestant Churches—the very issues now threatening to tear apart the Anglican Communion. We also see how this event helped politicize San Francisco’s gay community, and change the relationship between that community and the city’s political leaders. The globally significant leadership of San Franciscans of all sexual orientations, on cutting-edge social justice issues related to sexual identity, can be traced directly back to what happened at California Hall in 1965”.
“’The Last Dance Raid’ brings together an accomplished production team and a distinguished roster of advisors and consultants. Executive Producer Chris Sinton, a former senior Director at Cisco Systems and a pioneer of web-based philanthropy is making his debut as a media activist with this film. Documentary Director and Producer Jallen Rix has previous experience in music and music video production, and is also a syndicated columnist and has his doctorate of education in sexology for the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. Associate Producer Susan Stryker won an Emmy® Award for her previous film, Screaming Queens, and is an internationally-recognized expert on San Francisco’s LGBT history. Cinematographer Scott Saraceno has shot commercials for Verizon Wireless, Leroy Neiman, and other high-end clients. Sound Engineer Michael Rodriguez was Grammy® nominated in 1998 for his work at Meac Studios, co-founded with rock music icon Boz Scaggs”.
“The Last Dance Raid” is a sponsored project of the GLBT Historical Society.
- Posted in: GLBT Film