Before Stonewall

Before Stonewall Awards
Before Stonewall Awards


In 1969 the patrons of the Stonewall Inn in New York City’s Greenwich Village decided to fight back, transforming a routine police raid into three nights of rioting which marked the beginning of the Gay Liberation movement. Before Stonewall examines the historical background to this sudden burst of political energy – from the social experimentation of the Roaring Twenties, to the discovery of the true size of this hidden society during World War II, to the scapegoating of homosexuals during the McCarthy era, to the development of the early homophile rights movement – providing an informative and engaging portrait of the history of homosexual experience in America. Using filmed recollections and a wealth or archival material, Before Stonewall traces the social, political, and cultural development of the gay and lesbian community.

Directed by Greta Schiller. Produced by John Scagliotti, Greta Schiller and Robbie Rosenberg.   Editor, Bill Daughton. Archive research director, Andrea Weiss.  Produced by Before Stonewall Inc.

Special UK Edition with bonus features.  Includes panel discussion with director Greta Schiller and former London Mayor Ken Livingstone on the occasion of the film’s 25th anniversary, and also includes our short film, Tiny & Ruby!

Please Note: This is a region-0 UK edition DVD, playable on all computers and multi-standard DVD players. This DVD is available at the institutional rate only.

Price: from $35.00

What the Critics Are Saying

You owe it to yourself to see it. Laced with humor and irony... of vital interest to everyone.-- Judith Crist, TV Guide

An absorbing, shocking, revealing, humorous and thoroughly compassionate documentary.-- San Francisco Examiner

I can't praise "Before Stonewall" too highly. It's a fascinating document. It's worth watching over and over again."-- Stage and Screen (London)

Funny, sad, courageous and touching!- Seattle Times

Entertaining and enlightening!- Los Angeles Times

THE BBC NEWS calls BEFORE STONEWALL “an extraordinary piece of filmmaking”. Watch the Friday night BBC prime time panel discussion on the 25 year anniversary of the release of the film: How Far Since Stonewall? A BBC panel discussion on “Before Stonewall”.

For a full list of reviews, please see our Press Page.

Selected Festivals, Awards and TV Broadcasts

Screened in 30 international film festivals including Berlin, London, Florence, Toronto and Melbourne. Broadcast in USA, Britain, Denmark, China, Japan and Australia.

  • Emmy Award Best Historical/Cultural Program 1987
  • Emmy Award Best Research 1987
  • First Place, National Educational Film Festival USA
  • Best Film, Houston International Film Festival
  • Best Documentary Feature, Los Angeles FILMEX
  • Honorable Mention, Global Village Documentary Festival

Recommended Reading

Before Stonewall: the Making of a Gay and Lesbian Community by Andrea Weiss and Greta Schiller.
An illustrated historical guide to the Emmy Award-winning film. Naiad Press 1988 (out of print). Available in paperback only from Jezebel Productions. $10 U.S. + shipping.

Before Stonewall: The Making of a Gay and Lesbian Community