I know I've posted this clip from the movie "The Boys in the Band" before but I have the urge to post it again.
I remember the first time I saw this movie. It was in 1970. I saw it with Bill at the Goldman Theater in center city Philadelphia. Most of you reading this blog posting either weren't alive at this time or if you were alive, weren't aware of the gay sub culture. Oh but we (Bill and I and our friends) were.
In 1970 Bill and I had been together for six years. We went to the Westbury which was gay bar on the corner of 15th and Spruce Streets in Philadelphia almost every Saturday night. We usually met up with our coterie of gay friends Phil, Ron (yes, another "Ron"), Ed and others.
|Me, my friend Ron H. and Phil D - 1965 - ready to "hit the bars" on a Saturday night - notice we dress up - my friend Ron was the "Harold" of our group - sad to say he is also gone now|
Back in the 70's the gay subculture was very "sub", believe me. The Westbury bar and other gay bars were subject to periodic raids. Remember this film (and play) was made before the Stonewall Riots that said "Enough!"
Bill and I were hesitant to see this film although we wanted to see it very bad. Looking back on our reasons for being reluctant to see this film seems silly now but at that time we were actually afraid that the police would raid the whole theater and arrest us all. And of course back in Those Days when a gay man was arrested they always put it in the newspaper so your employer would discover your "perversion" and promptly fire you from your job. Oh yes, those things happened before Stonewall, believe me.
The Goldman theater was right across the street form the bank where I worked. Bill worked for RCA (remember that company?) Even though we were taking a risk we decided to see the movie anyway. I remember walking into the theater with butterflies in my stomach.
As we walked down the sumptuously carpeted theater aisles we tentatively looked around to see if there was anyone else we knew in the theater. Much to our surprise there appeared to be a greater number of straight people (men and women couples) in the theater. Of course there were the Usual Suspects, gay male couples dressed for the occasion. Back in those days gay men dressed up to go out.
We didn't see any police. We seated ourselves and waited for the theater lights to go down.
In a short time the lights went down and the movie started. "This is it!" we thought. You know I can't remember the theme music of "The Boys in the Band" but I do remember the opening scene of Emory (Cliff Gorman)
We settled down and watched this movie about all the different characterizations of gay men and their degrees of self-hate, doubt, and general joie de vivre. I do not exaggerate, I cannot tell you how liberated we felt watching a movie about our "friends." We knew gay men like those up on the screen! We WERE those gay men. Yes, we even used the now discarded jargon of "numbers" (referring to "tricks") and "Mary", which was an affectionate term for friends. Can you believe it?
|My friends Ed, me and Ron H. at my 24th birthday dinner at our Pennsauken, NJ apartment - 1964|
It goes without saying we were enthralled watching the whole movie which was a metaphor for what gay life was like for us and our friends pre-Stonewall.
Alas, those days are gone now as is most of the cast of this movie. Sadly all of the gay actors have died of AIDS related causes. Only the straight actors (Peter White "Alan" and Laurence Luckenbill "Hank") are alive today. But this movie, a ground breaking event in the evolution of gay awareness in the main societal culture of this country, lives on.
Every now and then I need my "Boys in the Band" fix. There is absolutely no movie entrance that surpasses Harold's Entrance. None.
This blog posting is for those of you who remember what it was like BS (before Stonewall). It was a whole different world folks.
We have progressed but we still have a long way to go. Back in 197 when Bill and I saw this movie the very idea that we could ever get legally married never entered our mind. After watching this clip I wonder what Harold would have to say.
|My friend Ron, me and Phil on River Drive in Philadelphia for a "Sunday Afternoon Cruise" - 1965|