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The Question of Equality

Going back to 1965, "Out Rage '69" describes the undercover lives of gays and lesbians as they slipped into anonymous bars and hid from vice cops, presentedstraight facades or accepted conformity. Reagan's 1967 "I happen to subscribe to the belief that it is a tragic illness" melds into Anita Bryant's 1977 virulent anti-gay stance.

Going back to 1965, “Out Rage ’69” describes the undercover lives of gays and lesbians as they slipped into anonymous bars and hid from vice cops, presentedstraight facades or accepted conformity. Reagan’s 1967 “I happen to subscribe to the belief that it is a tragic illness” melds into Anita Bryant’s 1977 virulent anti-gay stance.

Spec eyeballs the gay underground erupting with the 1969 Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village.

Second hour, “Culture Wars,” sleekly produced, rich with controversy, delivers an account of the 1990 bludgeoning of Julio Rivera of Queens. Three thugs slaughtered him for being gay. The trial, New York’s first involving a gay-bias murder, had a dramatic conclusion.

In 1992 Pat Buchanan, sounding off on family values, has a ready-made tool for his presidential campaign as he lambastes Marlon Riggs’ “Tongues Untied,” PBS docu about gay blacks.

Oregon Ballot Measure 9 brings the homosexual issue to a boil as the Oregon Citizen’s Alliance, part of Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition, vents its hate through rough language and death threats.

In “Hollow Liberty,” the military stance on gays in 1980 is illustrated by events on a naval vessel with women and men aboard. In 1982, a man’s arrested for having sex with another man in his own bedroom in Georgia. He appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court — and loses, thanks to Georgia’s anti-sodomy law.

The hour leads up to Clinton’s statement in June 1992 that “we don’t have a person to waste in America. We need all of you,” and the subsequent letdown as the administration hops into a more politically acceptable bed.

Final episode, “Generation Q,” looks at the views of gay teenagers at L.A.’s EAGLE (Emphasizing Adolescent Gay-Lesbian Education) Center, formed to help homeless gay and lesbian adolescents. But docu spends too much time on teenagers showboating their differences from general society. Interspersed among the testifiers, the solo readings and the artsy shots of youthful hand-holders are heavy-handedly intro’d clips from a shrill 1966 B&W school lecture on homosexuality.

ITVS, established by Congress in 1991 in St. Paul, Minn., is aimed at infusing pub broadcasting with diverse programming. Present series, sometimes sad, sometimes wearying, often inspiring, makes no effort to be objective; that may be too much to ask.

The Question of Equality

(Fri. (6) 10 p.m.-12 a.m., (13, 20) 11 p.m.-12 a.m. , KCET)

  • Production: Filmed by Testing the Limits and Channel Four TV, U.K., for the Independent Television Service. Executive producer, David Meieran; co-executive producers, Sandra Elgear, Robyn Hutt; supervising producer, Craig Paull; series senior producer, Isaac Julien; music, Anton Sanko; title music, Bill Laswell. OUT RAGE '69 Producer-director-writer, Arthur Dong; camera, Bobby Shepard; editor, Roger Schulte. CULTURE WARS Producers-directors-editors, Tina DiFeliciantonio, Jane C. Wagner; co-producer, Suzanne Wright; camera, Richard Numeroff. HOLLOW LIBERTY Producers, Hutt, Bennett Singer; director, Hutt; camera , Numeroff; editor, Richard Gordon. GENERATION Q Producer-director, Robert Byrd; camera, Wolfgang Held, Numeroff; editor, Gordon. Four-part docu out of the Independent Television Service surveys aspects of the U.S. gay and lesbian civil rights movement using archival film, headlines, clips from telecasts, newsreel footage, stills, testimonies and graphic art. Arranged in chronological order, chapters unspool aspects of American homosexual history since 1965. For those who don't remember, it'll jog memories; for those who never knew how dark the closet was, it may be illuminating. Gay opponents are pictured mostly as aging politicians, angry law enforcers, slick religious leaders and teenagers who spit out venom about homosexuals. Vigorously produced, if one-sided, program's major contribution is to point out that every American has the Constitution on his side -- and too often people of different persuasions and traditions don't get a shot at the American Dream.
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