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tv   Reel America Gay Rights Films of Lilli Vincenz  CSPAN  June 15, 2020 1:51pm-2:23pm EDT

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amendment. this movement, the story of the lgbtq rights movement really embodies everything whey ies ai first amendment and we hope that people will come experience it. >> you can watch this or other american artifacts programs at anytime by visiting our website, first ladies, influence and image, on american history tv. examines the private lives and the public roles of the nation's first ladies through interviews with top historians. tonight, we look at the first two first ladies, martha washington and an abigail adams, watch it tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern on americann abigail ad
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watch it tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern on american history tv o abigail adams, watch it tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern on american history tv oabigail adams, watch it tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern on american history tv on c-span3. >> now on a look at the history of gay rights in the united states, the pioneering gafiy fis of lilli vincenz and a guy rights group founded in 1950. ♪ a portion of the 1968 film the second largest minority by producer and director lilli vincenz.
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joining us is charles francis the president of the society ney washington, d.c., which is what? >> we are an lgbt history society with the motto of archive activism and by that i mean we find old materials that have been forgotten, sealed or just basically deleted and use those materials to talk about gay civil rights and the ongoing struggle for gay civil equality. >> we will show you both of the films in its entirety and the one is seven minutes, and the other 12 minutes on american history tv and real america. your connection to the films is what? >> we were honored to be chosen by lilli vincenz, the creator of these films, the producer and director of these films. she chose us to bring together all of her archive, some 10,000 items including these films and donate them to the library of congress and that's what we did. they now belong to the american people thanks to the generosity
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of lilli vincenz. >> where is she now? >> she is still with us, but not well enough to do interviews like this so i'm honored to pinch hit for her. >> you brought along a prop, this is an rca 16-millimeter projector. millennials may say what is that? >> millennials may think it's a weird science fair of some kind and it's a 16 millimeter vintage rca projector that belonged to lilli and lilli would use this projector to show the two films you're going to show today and she would show the films to groups and individuals and independent film festivals and she would charge $15 a rental, but the importance of this projector as a symbol is the fact that it shows what a community operation this whole thing was.
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there was no cnn. there was no cable television. there were no documentary film producers. there were no friendly networks. there was nothing. there was no oprah or anderson or anybody. lilli said okay. we'll make a movie and she borrowed a camera, she took a film class and hit the streets and did these two films and the first one you'll see is at independence hall in philadelphia in 1968, and the second one is the first-ever pride parade in new york. no networks to help, no one there, lilli shot them, edited them and put them together and this was her distribution system. no company would distribute these films so you'd use the u.s. mail and you leaned on the first amendment of the constitution to tell your story. >> but at that time in the late '60s and early '70s you had abc,
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nbc, cbs, did any of the major networks consider covering this story? >> oh, no. if they did it would be utterly hostile. i don't need to name names, but you'll see that the networks were total antis bordering on insulting and the great thing about what lilli did is she made her own film to tell the story as a joyous story, as a cultural watershed marching on the first anniversary of the stonewall riots from christopher street to central park where they had the gay-in. you could not have gotten that out of any media in those days and they would have treated you as aliens of a foreign planet if not outright perverts. >> you brought along these two pamphlets and in one, it states what to do if you are arrested.
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>> yeah. this is a time when our very lives are illegal and lilli was the editor of this publication called "the homosexual citizen." she published it under a pseudonym because in those days you valued your privacy as an individual. she used lilli hansen and her name is lilli vincenz and this is a publication of ideas and it's 1967 and they're doing a piece what if you are arrested and it's very old school, you know, ask for an attorney, write a letter. it's not at all part of the real world of stonewall where they're throwing you into paddy wagons so if you are arrested reminds us all when we had sodomy laws and just simply to be openly homosexual is a crime.
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>> as viewers watch both of the films, let's better understand who she was. born in hamburg, germany, she came to the u.s. when and what were her early years like in the u.s.? >> lilli was born in hamburg, germany, when it was in nazi germany and her parents brought her to the united states in 1949 and she went to columbia to study literature. she joined the women's army corps and in the women's army corps in a gay purge which they frequently had in the women's army corps she got booted and it was one of the greatest things that ever happened to her because she was able to shed all of the pretense and be who she was as an openly gay pioneer activist. growing up in a german family there was a word kicked around in her house a lot and when she
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was growing up she used to say it was lebenskunstler and that was a life artist. someone who looks at their life as a work of art. someone who masters the art of living and she became, i believe, a lieberkühnsler. >> the film gay and proud, how did this come about? >> gay and proud is an amazing film that she decided to make on the first anniversary of the stonewall riots documenting the first parade and it was called the christopher street liberation day parade from greenwich village. >> stonewall was what? >> stonewall was in 1969 and it was a gay bar that was raided as bars were in those days and this was the straw that broke the
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camel's back with the lesbian, gay and trans patrons of this bar. they refused to get in the paddy wagon and they refused to follow that if you are arrested be polite. it shook the world and major media didn't cover it at all or very slight. nicholas von hoffman called it fagot riots up in new york. lilli made and did this film. this film is epic because there's nothing like it, because she was the only one. >> here's a portion from 1970 "gay and proud." >> at first i was very guilty, and then i realized that all things taught to you not only by society and psychiatrists are to
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fit you in the mold and i rejected the mold, and when i rejected the mold i was happier. >> these are mostly independent organizations across the country. there are 60 to 75 independent groups across the united states, maybe more now because they keep growing overnight. this is a unified effort on the part of somewhere between 20 and 30 organizations on the east coast. ♪ ♪ >> that from the film "gay and proud." why was this a tipping point for the gay rights movement? >> it was a generational change from the old school mattachine when they would picket they would wear jackets and ties and skirts and dresses to the new era that happened almost overnight after stonewall in 1969 and she caught that change
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in "gay and proud" from the old school, second largest minority to "gay and proud," the explosion of the cultural change from old mattachine to gay liberation and i feel that spirit welling up today with one of the marshals of the coming pride parade billy porter, he said this is not going to be an f-ing parade, it's going to be a march, and i feel that he in that comment captures the spirit of this first christopher street parade filmed by lilli. >> and finally, explain the significance of what our viewers are about to see. >> the significance is seeing actually the texture of history, the joy in the streets, the youth, the new spirit of we are
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not going to take this anymore and then it's a lot of fun. they'll enjoy the whole '60s gay-in moment which you see so clearly in central park. >> charles francis, thank you very much for joining us from washington, d.c. and filmmaker lilli vincenz and the first one is seven minutes titled "the second largest minority" and the second one is titled "gay and proud." ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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>> we are homosexual human beings and homosexual american citizens. everybody always remembers the first word in both of those phrases, homosexuals, and very conveniently overlooks american citizens and human beings. full of the rights and dignity and all that goes with being a human being and being an american. >> any minority, any group or classification, i don't care if it's foreigners, you can't lump them together as one group. you have to take them as
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individuals. >> we are seeking recognition and our human dignity, our equality and acceptance as homosexuals. >> who is denying this human dignity? i as a citizen, all of the youth and groups. keep in mind that if the homosexual had the visibility in the country that the negro does there would be 15 million unemployed. >> say that again. >> if the homosexual had the visibility that the negro does, there would be 15 million unemployed homosexuals. >> that's the only way to get your problem settled. that if you don't bring things out in the open how will anyone know what to do about it? this way they can let them know like anyone else. you get a chance to live their life the way they wish.
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>> a movement such as this takes time and now they're going forward. >> on account of my homosexuality, i have lived for eight months on 20 cents' worth of food a day. this is at a time when people in my profession are in higher demand than they've been in human history and i could not get a job specifically because of my sexuality. i've seen lives destroyed for no other reason and these were people in society and it is prejudice against them and would not allow them to have the quality and opportunity. ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ >> your government would not give a job to homosexuals regardless of how well you do in the military, you won't be taken in. although the next situation is changing rapidly and it's still a valid generalization that a person known to be a homosexual cannot get an education. schools there throw them out and will not accept them at any level at all.
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>> this is all they are asking, not to be interfered with what they want to do in private. >> you will find, as in this country with most groups disparate and different and diverse groups that add richness to your society without in any way threatening each other and we see this in the gradual death of anti-semitism in this country. with regard to the negro, this is happening and it will take its time as it will take a while, unfortunately, but it is evolving in the same direction. diversity doesn't have to imply threat. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ >> having to lie, i feel, is the saddest and the ugliest part of being a homosexual when you have your first bad love experience, francis, you can't go to your brother or your sister and say i'm hurting. >> at first i was very guilty, and then i realized that all the things that are taught you not only by society and by psychiatry and to fit the mold. when i rejected the mold i was happier. >> these are organizations from across the country and there are within 60 and 75 independent
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groups over the united states and maybe more now because they keep growing overnight. this is a unified effort somewhere on the part of 20 or 30 organizations on the east coast. there are differences primarily of approach and tactics. certain groups, for example, tend to emphasize military tactics and other groups would emphasize an educational approach going into areas that you might call middle america people who don't know very much about homosexuality and other groups want to emphasize different things and most groups provide social services for help for people in need and this is a minor part of the effort and the major effort today is to change the social institutions that make life difficult for us. ♪ ♪
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>> gay and proud. gay and proud. gay and proud. gay and proud. gay and proud. gay and proud. gay and proud. gay and proud. 2, 4, 6, 8. gay power. gay power. >> gay and proud. gay and proud. gay and proud. gay and proud. say it loud. >> gay and proud. >> say it loud. >> gay and proud.
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>> what is the worst incident that has ever happened to you since you've been gay, as far as being gay? >> i guess my parents you know, them finding out was the worst. >> say it loud. >> we're gay and proud. >> what is the american -- >> devoted to the needs of gay people. >> you have to be accepted as a human being and as a woman, together, right? >> yes. >> equal basis? >> the two are combined.
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the two communities have come together and gone after a common denominator which are very strong because most of the beliefs of heterosexual woman and homosexual women are the same. >> if nothing else but good for the population explosion. >> can you tell me what you feel about the homophile movement? >> it's great and the only way to achieve it is through marches like this. >> 2, 4, 6, 8. >> 2, 4, 6, 8.
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[ chanting ] >> can you tell me what you thought about charlie brown carrying the american flag? >> he's a closet queen and i can find him in howard johnson any night. >> what color underwear did you wear? >> pink. >> is your dog gay? >> sure. >> i'm for bisexual myself. >> you recommend it? >> absolutely. that's where i think it's at. >> gay and proud.
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gay and proud. [ chanting ] >> what do you think? >> great, man. great. do your thing. that's all right. >> where are you stationed? [ inaudible ] [ dha [ chanting ] >> gay power. >> hey, hey, what do you say. >> what do you think? >> i think it's disgraceful and disgusting and a communist march. it's to separate the people. they've done it with the bronx movement. they've done it with the italian movement. they've done it with the jewish movement. and now they doing it with the gay movement so to speak. this is what hitler did in germany. >> you ought to know, baby.
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>> all the frustrated homosexuals as the gestapo. >> gays, gays, all the way. gays, gays, all the way. >> since you are not homosexual, obviously, why are you in -- well, i'm taking it for granted, sir. why are you in the parade today? what is your motivation? >> i knew people here and they convinced me to go. i thought it would be exciting. >> do you think homosexual should be legalized ala illinois? >> definitely. >> would you ever marry a girl who had been a homosexual? >> i think it would be more interesting. >> gays, gays, all the way. gays, gays, all the way. gays, gays, all the way. gays, gays, all the way. gays, gays, all the way.
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♪ >> do you think the added stress of being a homosexual in a heterosexual society causes a lot of torment in the homosexual relationships of women? >> yes, it does. a lot of women seem to think that if they're with women because they rejected men in that sense, but if they come to realize that they're with women because they want to be and they rejected a role, then they wouldn't be guilty. ♪ >> anybody have any idea how long until we go up there?
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>> as far as this thing today is concerned, it's all right to say what you feel as long as you keep it at an intellectual level. all of this orgy stuff and all that is ridiculous, you know. >> straight people can do it, why can't we? >> really. straight people can do all this carrying on and holding hands and kiss in the park, why can't we do it? they ain't no better than i am. >> i'm not talking about kissing and holding hands in the park. but like -- >> he's talking about liberalization. >> i'm talking about some guy dropping his pants, all right? >> i've seen people fuck in the park, women and men. >> all right. that doesn't mean we have to do it. it gives us a bad name. >> we should be able to do it if we want to. >> if we want to get a bad name for ourselves, right. >> it's a kissing contest. what does it mean? >> it means the heterosexual record is nine hours. we're going to attempt to break the record by having a homosexual couple beat the time.
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>> go to it, myra. >> myra, say something to the press. >> tell me how you feel about being here today? >> it feels beautiful. it's fantastic. >> how many years have you been a homosexual? >> i was born homosexual. it's beautiful. >> has the new movement given you an added pride or incentive? >> yes. >> i was sorry not to see a politician or somebody here today. i think lindsey should have made it a point to be here today as well as possibly some of the gay movement organizers themselves, at least they might have been here but they didn't speak out to us and they should have. also, i think there should have been the united states flag at the beginning of the parade which i didn't see. i think people were very well behaved, very well manner and police respected us. it's a showing that we're really making it. >> because if two homosexuals
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can live together and thrive and be constructive rather than destructive to each other and themselves, without legal bonds, without children, without the sanction of the great society, then they can demonstrate to heterosexuals they need not be so concerned with their property and marriage and divorce laws. >> and you think you're happier now that you realized exactly where your feelings lie? >> indeed. i'm sorry it took so long and sorry i spent so many years in the closet. >> somebody dropped an eyelash. >> i mean, it really finally comes down to finding one other person to love and be loved by and you serve each other's needs. >> gay power. first ladies influence and image on american history tv
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examines the public lives and the public roles of the nation's first ladies through interviews with top historians. tonight, we look at the first two first ladies, martha washington and abigail adams. watch first ladies influence and image tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern on american history tv on c-span3. the presidents from public affairs, available now in paper back and e book being biographies of every president organized by their ranking by noted historians, from best to worst. and features perspectives into the lives of our nation's chief executives and leadership is styles. visit slash the presidents to learn more. and order your copy today.


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