Directed by John Scagliotti
“Oh my God, we have history! Or Herstory! No it’s Ourstory! At last, hidden no longer! Back from the mists of time and ages of antiquity! Ancient gay love and lives!” -Larissa Naro, my wife
After a quite frightening asthma attack that landed my wife in the hospital for two days and then home from work for a week, she had been a bit low and certainly not at all like her normally very animated and cheerful self when she joined me on our futon yesterday to watch a screener of this documentary that was kindly sent to me, Before Homosexuals: The Prequel to Before Stonewall. When the documentary was over and I asked my wife her thoughts on it, she was instantly her old cheerful self again as she excitedly jumped off the futon and exclaimed her happiness at finally getting to see in one 90 minute film what we have both suspected for a long time now and have often talked about with each other during our 17 year relationship – that us gays have always existed in history. Us LGBT folks have always been a part of history since there was history.
Back in 1999 when I was first starting to come out and was trying to accept my sexuality, being a history buff, I had decided to do some investigating about the history of my LGBT people since I knew little to nothing about my people outside of the inside Hollywood gossip my gay uncle, who knew and worked with a lot of Hollywood gays, used to tell me. Sure, I knew who was gay in Hollywood, but that is only a small part of our history, and so I was excited to see what else was out there in history about us, but searching for our history in those early years of my coming out process proved a frustrating task in many ways –
- Historians denying same sex evidence.
- History changing the story so the same sex relationship was wiped from time by turning it heterosexual or just platonic.
- Lack of much historical information out there even about us.
My research included watching documentaries, because I love me some documentary watching, and two of these documentaries that were included in my LGBT history research were quite outstanding – Before Stonewall and After Stonewall. These documentaries mainly delved into our 20th Century history just before and just after the 1969 Stonewall Riots. And now after all these years, a prequel, that was actually needed, for once, has been added to that amazing film series, Before Homosexuals: The Prequel to Before Stonewall and what a wonderful addition to the series this movie is, covering much of our history that my wife and I have discussed with each other for the last 17 years together –
- Alexander The Great and his male lover Hephaestion
- Achilles and his male lover Patroclus
- Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci both being homosexual
- Sappho and her poems about her female lovers
- Oscar Wilde and his three trials that eventually sent him to jail just for being gay
And on and on and on the documentary went with all kinds of wonderful and not so wonderful history about us that my wife and I have been debating and discussing about all these years. But the movie also went on and on and on about all kinds of history about us that neither of us ever knew about and there is so much out there about us that we had no idea existed!
- Lesbians are condemned in the Bible too, so thanks Saul/Paul for that!
- A male couple helped to save democracy in Greece!
- There are a lot of really, really old penis sculptures out there, and yes, they are about men loving on men!
- Michelangelo wrote poetry to his male lover and what beautiful poetry it is!
- We are all over the world!
- We are all across time!
- All the way back to cavemen!
- No shit, we are everywhere!
And as all of this unending plethora of LGBT historical information went on and on and on, we were so amazed by all of this new material about our people that the film had this profound effect on both of us, because for the first time in one place here was ALL of our history, from cavemen days all the way up to modern times AND THERE IS SO MUCH HISTORY ABOUT US!!! That was the true gift of this documentary that I believe pulled my wife out of her sick of being sick blues and helped to pull me out of my blues about my wife being so sick, because for the first time here was our extensive history in one movie. Here was a movie telling us over and over again how often in time we have been there making history with everyone else. And we have often and always been a part of history. And when you add in the other two films in this series, you have basically our WHOLE history right there on your TV at your fingertips…or laptop tips or smart phone tips or whatever tips you are watching it on.
And so there was movie magic right there in this film, doing its thing to me, as it’s always been doing to me my whole life, picking me up and dusting me off and telling me to go on, keep trying because this movie kept showing me time and again to keep trying. Keep moving. Keep being you because sooner or later, as time marches on, it’s okay to be you again. And that was the biggest shocker of them all with this film, something I had suspected for some time, but I never had quite the right visual before to connect all the bits in history for me, that in history there are moments in time for us when it is okay to be us. There have, of course, been times when it was so NOT okay to be us and we just had a LONG spell of it so NOT being okay to be us. But I think we are swinging the other way with history now and it’s becoming more and more okay to be us and this documentary, along with its two companions, help to point the way to this realization that we are coming on a time in history again that it is okay to just be gay. How’s them apples? Pretty cool apples, I think. 😉
I also think that Dorothy Parker (a lady who liked the ladies) summed up this whole phenomenon pretty distinctly and simply – “Heterosexuality is not normal, it’s just common.” In other words, history decides when we are normal, so I say to history, we’re normal. And this documentary, along with its two companions, more than proves that fact. And if this film can pick my wife up out of the I’m sick of being sick blues, then that makes it a pretty damn good movie too. At least to me. And probably my wife too. 🙂
Before Homosexuals: The Prequel to Before Stonewall will premiere April 8th, 2017 at 2:00 PM at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston as part of the 33rd Annual Wicked Queer: The Boston LGBT Film Festival.
You can also keep updated about more festival screenings of Before Homosexuals.
The producers of this film will also have an educational outreach campaign this fall with the goal of including Before Homosexuals, Before Stonewall and After Stonewall in university and college libraries, making it available to thousands of young people around the world. Let’s hope they accomplish this goal. What a great historical resource these three documentaries are for our past, present and future.