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My Gay Toronto - 416 Scene

Lest we forget: Raid of the Rainbow Lounge

The ReelHeART International Film Festival runs Mon, June 24 to Sat, June 29 at The Big Picture Cinema, 1035 Gerrard St E. reelheart.org

The ReelHeART International Film Festival announces it's Pride programming

Forty years to the day after the Stonewall Riots, police and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (who's motto, the film Raid of the Rainbow Lounge, mockingly notes is "service, courtesy, integrity, accountability") conducted an inspection on Fort Worth's first large gay club. The results became what the witnesses and gay community called a "raid" and the police described as an "incident." The search for the truth and the galvanizing, creation would not be a stretch, of the Forth Worth gay community becomes a virtual mystery-solving puzzle that Raid of the Rainbow Lounge attempts to untangle. 

The echoes with Toronto's 1981 bathhouse raids are impossible to ignore and, in much the same way, an "unfortunate incident" lead to a community coming together, standing up for its rights and making huge strides forward. It's a shame the process has to be so painful and Raid of the Rainbow Lounge explicitly frames the story in a larger context and warns for vigilance so that communities can organize in advance rather than be taken by surprise. 

The preponderance of talking heads (the raid took place in 2009, in today's wired world we have come to expect a lot more cell phone footage and photographs to flesh out the narrative) is ably compensated for by the twists and turns of the narrative. And footage of marching, protesting gays or gays speechifying for their rights always brings a lump to the throat and, occasionally, tears to the eyes.

Raid of the Rainbow Lounge is the centrepiece of the RealHeART International Film Festival's Pride programming which also includes Freak, a drag queen dilemma documentary, and Stand Up, a drama where a traditional Irish father tries to make peace with the death of his gaybashed gay son who was studying to be a stand up comedian, on Wed, June 26.

The ReelHeART International Film Festival
runs Mon, June 24 to Sat, June 29 at The Big Picture Cinema, 1035 Gerrard St E. reelheart.org


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