Abnormal story about the tear duct

The fact that California and especially Los Angeles are among the most gay-friendly regions today is the result of decades of evolution. As a complex historical process, it cannot be described as a ‘single story’ but requires multiple viewpoints. The structural social upheavals caused by World War II and the influence of the Hollywood film industry played a role in making California a place that attracted many gay people early on, some of whom later became pioneers and advocates for social change.

HISTORY Channel will air the documentary “Queer History – A Long Way to Equality” Friday at 8:15 p.m. on “Wear it Purple Day.” Marketing (perhaps on purpose) is misleading. The German title hides unimportant details that focus very specifically and geographically on the curious history of Los Angeles. The original title was: “LA A Queer History.” Distributors may have feared that “Los Angeles” in Germany alone would not attract enough viewers to listen to it. But let’s put the disappointment of fraudulent branding aside for the time being.

Rewriting gay myths

History is shaped in the collective consciousness by the stories we tell ourselves. Sometimes these traditions create some legends that shine out of proportion. Some time ago, queer.de addressed the founding myth of the homosexual movement around the Stonewall protest. “Queer History” also set itself the task of rewriting this foundational legend. Above all, more importance is attached to Los Angeles as a springboard for social and legal change, and the city is brought to the fore.


“Give the queens the beans!”: A creative protest against Barney’s Beanery, featuring the phrase “Fagots Stay Out!” Gay people were not allowed in (Photo: 4Mat Factory Films/The HISTORY Channel)

The thread weaves in the documentary began in the first half of the twentieth century, when gay bars were not yet gay bars, but collect points for all the minorities who were ostracized from mainstream society. “Queer History” briefly transcends social ostracism and persecution by the police and the judiciary, founding the Mattachine Society, the first gay advocacy group, the first beefcake family magazines and many other change stations.

Documentary flourishes above all with the large number of eyewitness reports that reflect historical events. However, this is also a major weakness of the film, as it relies too much on the emotional impact of individual stories rather than delving into reality and reconstructing queer history.

Shallow water, lack of depth

The “Queer History” approach is primarily a virtual one, which means that the documentary jumps from one event to the next. From the first CSD memorializing Stonewall to the disco era of the 1970s, to conflicts within the community, etc. Often the individual phases remain disconnected, and in general everything remains very superficial. The historiography followed here is too short-sighted, and too eclectic to be really enriching.


Emotional Pictures: “We’re Not Afraid Anymore” (Photo: 4Mat Factory Films/The HISTORY Channel)

Rather than finding out what social changes have taken place, what links exist between individual events, “Queer History” depends entirely on surface and influence. With a lot of pathos, the events are always reliably emphasized by the very dramatic music. Desperate to cry, the film is based on an over-produced cinematic style in a very American way.

Instead of focusing and really taking a close look at an unimportant and certainly very relevant chapter of gay history, “Queer History” unfortunately focuses primarily on emotions. So viewers leave this documentary fun and totally touched, but only superficially and superficially know about gay history (LAs!).

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