March on Washington (1979)

This footage shows some of the planning that went into the 1st National March on Washington for Lesbian & Gay Rights. There is footage from the first national meeting that took place at the Friend’s Meeting House in Philadelphia in February 1979, the second meeting at the University of Houston July 4th weekend 1979 and some footage in the national headquarters of the march, 156 Fifth Avenue, New York.

That meeting in Philadelphia was crucially important in my development as a filmmaker. The first thing that happened was a 45-minute vociferous debate on whether cameras would be allowed at the meeting. On the one hand, people legitimately feared that they could lose their jobs, their children, their lives if it became known that they were homosexual. On the other hand, people argued for the historical consequences of the meeting and the importance of documenting it. What was decided was that people who didn’t want their picture taken would sit on the right side of the auditorium and people who were willing to have their picture taken would sit on the left. By the end of the weekend, no one was sitting on the right side and I had realized the fundamental significance of filming a people for whom images were a matter of life and death.

There is much more footage of both the planning and the actual march in my film “March On!” That film has not been digitized and exists only on the original Super-8 film. There is footage of the actual march in my film Two Marches.

Digital transfer made possible by a grant from the Al Larvick Conservation Fund.

00:30 The sign language interpreter was also the bouncer at the Crisco Disco in New York. I always wanted to be frisked by him, but I never was.
01:46 Ron Alheim (also 20:07)
03:28 David Thorstad
05:38 Paul Boneberg (06:23, 07:45, 08:43, 09:59)
05:58 Jim Newton (08:21, 14:15)
06:07 Eric Rofes (07:09, 08:52, 09:01, 09:59)
07:27 Steve Ault (08:32, 20:25)
07:53 A. Billy S. Jones-Henin (08:19)
08:52 Scott Tucker (09:21)
10:36 Polly Parker
11:14 Charlotte Bunch
13:04 Eleanor Cooper
13:16 Joyce Hunter (18:27)
13:20 Curtis (Kiki) Mason
14:46 Morris Kight
16:05 Phyllis Frye
18:27 Aner Candelario
18:47 – 25:20 New York Headquarters with Steve Ault, Ron Alheim, Eric Rofes, Polly Parker, Roger Jacoby and others
19:27 Steve Ault
19:45 Roger Jacoby