Help bring this historic civil rights action to light
Lewd & Lascivious (formerly titled The Last Dance Raid) is a fiscal project of the GLBT Historical Society. You can help bring this historic event to light by making a tax-deductible contribution to the GLBT Historical Society (a registered 501c3).
"It is an honor to bring to the screen this amazing story of ministers and LGBTQ folk working together to bring justice to San Francisco in the 1960's - pre-Stonewall!"
- Director/Producer, Jallen Rix
Executive Producer, Chris S. Sinton
Associate Producers, Susan Stryker,
Brett Chatelain, Mark Hollenstein
FORGOTTEN STORY OF PIVOTAL EARLY GAY RIGHTS ACTION FINALLY TOLD
In 1965 Being Gay in San Francisco Was a Crime and The Police Had Their Own Idea of Justice
It is the first day of 1965, and a glittering Mardi Gras Costume Ball is about to begin in San Francisco, at a rented venue on Polk Street called California Hall. The high-profile fundraising gala is a coming out party for the city’s underground gay culture, which hopes, for the first time in history, to publicly reveal itself in a thoroughly respectable yet visibly queer and overtly political fashion. The party is a traditional gay drag ballbut with a twist. Progressive Christian ministers involved in the civil rights movement are part of the organizing committee, along with activists from several fledgling “homophile” organizations (as these pioneering gay rights groups then called themselves). Men in clerical collars are mingling with men in low-cut evening gowns to show the world that a new day is dawning in the struggle for social justice and human equality.
Lewd & Lascivious, the documentary film recovers a landmark event in LGBTQQ history for today’s audiences, using intergenerational storytelling by eye-witnesses who impart a sense of power that comes from knowing the history of one’s own people, and to promote non-violent strategies for resisting oppression. It does this by creating a documentary film of police harassment and public abuse on New Year’s Day 1965 of a gay and lesbian Mardi Gras Costume Ball attendees and how it changed the Gay civil rights landscape in San Francisco.
Lewd & Lascivious recounts this pivotal night in American history when gay rights first gained a seat at the table of progressive politics. The story unfolds through eye-witness accounts. Long-time lesbian activists Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon share their memories of meetings with the SFPD. Herb Donaldson, San Francisco’s first openly gay judge, thought his legal career was over because he was arrested for obstructing a police officer in the line of duty. Jon Borset recounts losing his job when news of his arrest was published in the newspaper. Other interviewees include attendees Nancy May, and Fred Alvarez, who vividly describe what it was like to be inside California Hall during the raid. Organizers and ministers Chuck Lewis and Ted McIllvenna give blow-by-blow behind-the-scenes insights into what they hoped to accomplish that night, and why it was so important. The political establishment saw first-hand, for the first time, the kind of discrimination the gay community routinely faced, and as a result embraced gay rights as part of their cause. Ministers held a widely-reported press conference the next morning to angrily denounce the police. When the entire conflict was brought before a Federal Court, the judge quickly sided with the innocent party goers. The media latched on to this like never before and the gay rights movement turned a decisive corner, and it has never looked back.
In telling the tale of the police raid at California Hall, we also come to understand the larger history of faith-based efforts to promote a truly just and tolerant society in the United States. The Mardi Gras Costume Ball was a fund raiser 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 Churchesthe 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.
Lewd & Lascivious 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.
Lewd & Lascivious is a fiscally-sponsored project of the GLBT Historical Society.
"The freedoms that the LGBTQ Community has now were won by law...
... and they can be taken away by law, too."
- The Rev. Chuck Lewis, Lewd & Lascivious
Though this story takes place in the 1960's, it is amazing how relevant these words are especially today, when women's reproductive rights are still at risk of being taken away by political leaders, and school boards and city governments ban the education of healthy sexuality and civility in our public schools putting LGBTQ youth at risk.
Please help us bring to light this wonderful story where the tide first began to turn toward justice for the GLBTQ people of San Francisco and the world!
In April 2012, the amazing Sylvia Chase lends her voice talent to Lewd & Lascivious!
Chris Sinton, our Executive Producer arranged for the TV Journalist, Sylvia Chase to step into the studio and record the narration for our documentary. What a pleasure it was to have her be out guest, working with our sound engineer, Michael Rodriguez (pictured) to create the perfect feel for the narrative throughout Lewd & Lascivious. Thank you so much for your time, energay and insights, Sylvia!
Sylvia Chase is an award-winning broadcast journalist with more than three decades' experience in network and public television. Her work has been honored with Peabody, duPont-Columbia, Emmy and Washington Press Club awards, among others. She has been a contributing correspondent to NOW, where her investigative report on the history of Medicare Part D legislation was nominated for an Emmy Award for Business & Financial Reporting. Prior to her work with NOW, Ms. Chase was a correspondent for ABC News, assigned to Primetime, the weekly television news magazine program. She also hosted the ABC Radio News weekly Perspective, dedicated to stories behind the news headlines. Ms. Chase anchored the news on KRON-TV in San Francisco from 1985 to 1990, where she also reported and hosted six documentaries per year. She was on the correspondent team that kicked off 20/20, the ABC News weekly magazine. During the 1970s, Ms. Chase was a pioneer female reporter and correspondent for the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite and an anchor producer of a daytime news magazine program at the network. -- PBS.org