This rare film was thought lost for nearly 50 years. It dates from 1972 and is a remarkable record of San Francisco’s first officially city-permitted Gay Pride Parade: a brave, small, but festive procession starting along a short stretch of Montgomery Street in the heart of the Financial District. (The first “unofficial” parade had happened two years earlier.)
In this recently rediscovered film, pristinely restored, filmmaker Ronald Chase not only turns his cameras on the defiantly public celebrants, but, in a collage of voiceover interviews, gives expression to the thoughts and feelings of a wide range of participants and onlookers—not all of whom are supportive. While some of the views expressed (and the parade’s largely white composition) may strike us today as dated, this valuable historic document also captures a moment when gay visibility was transgressive, political, and new. Experiencing the LGBTQ rights movement’s roots in street protest against police harassment couldn’t feel more timely.