June 12, 1982
This footage is of the Lesbian and Gay Contingent at the Anti-Nuke March held in New York City on June 12, 1982. This was the largest political rally ever held in New York up to that time. It was so large that we mostly stood around and waited. We were headed to the rally on the Great Lawn in the middle of Central Park. We got as far as the perimeter of Central Park, but that’s it. The footage ends with images of my friend Robert D’Avanzo. At first, Robert is unaware that anyone is filming him, then he looks around nervously because he has the sense that someone is watching him and finally he sees me and breaks out into a big smile and strikes a Mae West pose. Here my film ran out. I went over to say hello to Robert. He said to me, “This is Nelson.” Nelson put his arm around me and never let go. There’s not a single frame of Nelson in the footage, but we’ve been together ever since. Robert’s behavior is indicative of much I have tried to do with my filming. One of the reasons I film demonstrations is that people’s attention is directed elsewhere and they don’t perform for the camera. I have tried to capture people’s unself-conscious gestures and behavior. Robert’s actions clearly show the different relationships people can have with the camera.
I was working full-time at that point, but I managed to process and edit this footage in order to show it at the Montreal Lesbian & Gay Film Festival on June 19th. The screening was a difficult and complicated one. It followed a women’s only screening and my film would not go through the projector. We joked that the projector was a Lesbian Separatist and we talked and talked (with Tom Waugh translating what I said into French) hoping that the film would work. Finally, Tom sent the audience home. I was standing in the projection booth dejected, when the projectionist screamed, “It’s working.” Tom ran after the audience screaming, “Ça marche, ça marche.” Some of the audience returned and we started the screening. The first film looked awful, but when this footage came on the screen, audience members started pointing and saying there’s Jonathan, there’s Vito, etc. etc. The connection between the audience and the people on the screen transformed it into a warm and memorable afternoon.
Digital transfer made possible by a grant from the Al Larvick Conservation Fund.
00:43 Dykes of Hoboken (also 06:13)
01:26 Steve Rose
02:18 Bill Andriette
02:42 Jonathan Ned Katz
03:45 David Feinberg
03:56 David France
04:08 Lavender Left
04:13 Andy Maso
04:59 Rick Landman, John Lemmon
06:00 Dignity (Gay Catholics)
08:57 Robert D’Avanzo, Dominic Florio