Pride Month Spotlight: Vito

“Enormously entertaining… Incisive and illuminating. This emotionally powerful documentary…is the stirring testament he deserves.” – The Hollywood Reporter

“Hugely moving and even more inspiring.” – LA Weekly

“I highly recommend it to anyone interested in pop culture, in civil rights, or in how the two are deeply connected. Through his story, ‘Vito’ becomes not just a biography but a history of his times, as a fight against discrimination became a fight for life.” – Time Magazine

“Involving… vibrant. A dramatic focal point in the history of gay rights.” – Variety

 

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On June 27, 1969, a police raid on a Greenwich Village gay bar took a surprising turn when patrons decided it was time to fight back. As a riot erupted outside the Stonewall Inn, a new era in the Gay Rights Movement was born. You know the story.

Vito Russo, a 23-year-old film student, was among those in the crowd the unforgettable night. Over the next twenty years, until his death from AIDS in 1990, Vito would go on to become one of the most outspoken and inspiring activists in the LGBT community’s fight for equal rights.

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In the midst of his involvement with Act Up and the fight against AIDS, Vito was also a prolific writer. His seminal book The Celluloid Closet explored the ways in which gay and lesbian characters were (most often subtly) portrayed on film, what lessons those characters taught gay and straight audiences, and how those negative images were at the root of society’s homophobia.

Even before the book was published, Vito was taking The Celluloid Closet on the road, traveling to gay film festivals and college campuses for an entertaining and informative lecture/ clip show that intertwined Vito’s love of show business and radical gay politics. He continued writing, lecturing, speaking out and acting up until just months before his death.

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Directed by award-winner Jeffrey Schwarz (I Am Divine, Tab Hunter Confidential, The Fabulous Allen Carr), Vito paints a galvanizing portrait of this outspoken activist in the LGBT community’s struggle for equal rights, using period footage and film clips to capture a vibrant era of gay culture. It’s simply a must-see.

Vito is streaming right now on Dekkoo as one of our Pride Picks. Make sure you check it out if you haven’t seen it already! 

Pride Month Spotlight: Raid of the Rainbow Lounge

On June 28, 2009, at 1:28 am, seven police officers and two agents from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission swarmed into the Rainbow Lounge, a newly opened gay bar in Fort Worth. The raid lasted approximately 30 minutes. It occurred 40 years, to the date, after the Stonewall riots in New York City – and the parallels are haunting.

Five patrons were zip tied, arrested for public intoxication and taken to jail. Multiple others were arrested and/or detained and then later released. One patron, Chad Gibson, was taken to the emergency room with life threatening injuries and was charges with assault and public intoxication. Police claimed the whole incident was simply a routine inspection.

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Writer-director Robert L. Camina knew he needed to capture what was going on. His film, Raid of the Rainbow Lounge, recounts the events of that night, their aftermath and the massive changes that followed. Attending almost every single event related to the raid, camera in hand, Camina was able to interview over 35 people and record over 50 hours of rallies, city council meetings, counter-protests and more.

In the wake of the raid, Fort Worth city leaders and members of the LGBTQ community took significant steps to create a better world for all its citizens. Fort Worth is now a leader in LGBTQ equality.

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“I hope this film inspires people to get involved in their own community,” said Camina in his original Director’s Statement. “While city leaders need to be held accountable for the safety and well-being for all the people they represent, members of the community also need to speak up and initiate change.”

Raid of the Rainbow Lounge embodies the ideals set out by many grassroots organizations seeking progressive change. It’s also a textbook example of how a powerful piece of cinema can be a tool for that change. Raid premiered in Fort Worth in 2012 to a sold-out crowd, rave reviews and a media frenzy. The screening proved to be a watershed moment. It provided closure, healing and strengthening the bridges built between the Fort Worth Police Department and the local LGBTQ Community. It went on to screen at more than 30 film festivals all across North America and picked up some major awards and extra positive attention along the way.

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You can stream Raid of the Rainbow Lounge right now on Dekkoo as one of our Pride Picks!

Pride Month Spotlight: This is What Love in Action Looks Like

Though he’s know primarily for films like Blue Citrus Hearts and his Dekkoo Original Series Feral, writer-director Morgan Jon Fox set out to make a difference with his 2011 documentary This is What Love in Action Looks Like.

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When 16-year-old Zach Stark told his parents that he was gay, they panicked, believing that something was psychologically wrong with him. They soon sent him to “Love In Action,” a religious organization that promised to “cure” homosexuality.

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Founded in 1973, Love in Action, now known as “Restoration Path” is the oldest and largest ex-gay organizations in the United States. They take the position that homosexuality is strictly behavioral and can be cured. Originally for adults, they began a program for teens, many of whom sent involuntarily.

Their draconian methods for sexual “redemption” prompted Fox, already a well-established indie filmmaker, to both become active in the ensuing protest against the group as well as document it all through interviews with several youths who had been in the program, the then current director of “Love in Action” (himself, a “former gay”) and the many young protesters who were compelled to mobilize against the organization.

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An important look at gay youth, intolerance and skewed religious beliefs, This is What Love in Action Looks Like is available on Dekkoo. It’s one of our heralded Pride Picks.

Pride Month Spotlight: Scrum

“Cinematic and deeply poetic, Scrum smashes stereotypes.”Screen Australia

“It’s not about gay, it’s not about rugby, it’s about an unstoppable team… who happen to be gay.” – Salty Popcorn

“From sweaty locker rooms to the pub, from nerve-wracking draft meetings to slow-motion clashes in the dirt and rain, Scrum is a handsomely shot and deeply affecting film.”The Low Down Under

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From director Poppy Stockwell, Scrum presents an intimate look at the journey of three different athletes and members of the “Sydney Convicts,” an Australian gay rugby team, as they prepare physically, emotionally and mentally for the 2014 Bingham Cup.

As the players compete for a coveted spot in the Gay Rugby World Cup, this muddy, sweaty and visually arresting documentary shines a spotlight on some incredibly tough men who break every stereotype in the book. Not only are they deliciously rugged, but they have a hell of a lot of heart. Being a member of the Sydney Convicts is a major commitment. They’re not just teammates, they’re brothers.

Originally completed in 2015, Scrum has been broadcast on multiple continents and screened at numerous LGBTQ film festivals all over the world, to great reviews from critics and audiences.

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You can watch Scrum now on Dekkoo as one of our Pride Month selections. Just be ready to break a sweat!

Pride Month Spotlight: Chris & Don: A Love Story

To celebrate Pride, be sure to check out the Dekkoo’s Pride Picks.

Long before gay marriage was ever considered possible, portrait artist Don Bachardy fell in love with famed gay author Christopher Isherwood. Their legendary relationship began on the beach at Malibu in 1956 and continued until Isherwood’s death in 1986. Beautifully executed and movingly told, the documentary Chris & Don: A Love Story tells their story.

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Isherwood, born near Manchester, England just after the turn of the 20th century, began his illustrious writing career just after college. He moved to Berlin in the late 1920s to be closer to his dear friend W.H. Auden. Falling in love with the city, he stayed there until the Nazis started encroaching on the gay community – not knowing, just yet, how much worse their influence would become. He later distilled his experiences there into “Berlin Stories,” the basis for the classic musical Cabaret. In 1939 Isherwood and Auden fled to California where they discovered Eastern religions… and a lot of attractive young men.

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It wasn’t until 1956 that his fabled love affair with Don Bachardy would begin. Brought to life by a multi-media treasure trove, the story of Chris & Don will keep you gripped. This doc features a ton of different interviews with Bachardy as well as archival footage, rare home movies (with glimpses of Auden and other friends like Igor Stravinsky and Tennessee Williams), reenactments, and, most sweetly, whimsical animations based on the cat-and-horse cartoons the pair used in their personal correspondence. Theirs is an unusual May-December love story for the ages and we’re glad it’s recounted here.

Spotlight on the Dekkoo Amazon Channel for Pride 2017!

For those of you who don’t know, Amazon has made it easier to live outside the loving embrace of cable or satellite TV subscriptions by offering Amazon Prime members the option to purchase a Channel subscription to Dekkoo, and other streaming entertainment channels directly through Amazon Video.

To celebrate Pride, Amazon has launched a spotlight page where you can check out the entire selection of Amazon LGBTQ-centric channels. With 400 individual titles available, the Dekkoo Amazon Channel is a great add-on!