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Gay USA

Gay USA
February 17, 2019 - 7:36 pm

Access every screening in the UCLA Festival of Preservation with a $50 pass.

Gay USA  (1978)

Preservation funding provided by The Andrew J. Kuehn Jr. Foundation, Frameline, and members of Outfest.

Filmed in one day, June 26, 1977, in multiple locations throughout the country, Gay U.S.A. documents the gay pride parades of the time and also offers an overview of the issues facing the homosexual community. A myriad of different camera operators and interviewers took to the streets in San Francisco, San Diego, New York, Chicago, Houston and Los Angeles. The footage was lovingly compiled and edited together by Arthur J. Bressan Jr., in honor of Robert Hillsborough, a gay man who was stabbed to death in San Francisco on June 22, 1977.  

Earlier in 1977, performer Anita Bryant’s Save Our Children coalition helped push legislation in Miami that repealed an anti-discrimination ordinance. This legislative defeat for gay rights galvanized the community. Opposition to Anita Bryant and outrage over the Hillsborough slaying led to huge numbers of protest and parade participants.  Gay marches were organized every year in honor of the anniversary of the Stonewall uprising of 1969.

Present at the parades were openly gay men, lesbians, gay and straight families, supportive parents and drag queens. There were also dissenters of all kinds, including religious and moral objectors. Gay U.S.A. gives voice to both sides of the issue creating almost a debate-like atmosphere. But, above all, it is a joyous celebration of gay and lesbian culture with a folk soundtrack worthy of the time period.

Bressan began his career directing gay adult films, but ventured into documentary with his short film Coming Out, which documents the San Francisco 1972 Gay Freedom Day demonstration, then onto non-erotic features, including his best-known film, Buddies (1985), the first feature film about AIDS. Gay U.S.A. presents an almost jubilant period in gay history before the AIDS epidemic swept the world. Sadly Arthur Bressan succumbed to AIDS in 1987.Jillian Borders

DCP, color, 78 min. Distribution: Frameline. Presented by Joseph R. Knutson. Producer: David Pasko, Arthur J. Bressan Jr. Director: Arthur J. Bressan Jr.

Preserved by UCLA Film & Television Archive from a 16mm internegative and a 35mm print. Laboratory services and DCP by UCLA Film & Television Archive Digital Media Lab. Special thanks to Roe Bressan, Jenni Olson, Frameline.