With Stonewall OutLoud, directors Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato revive the resounding echoes of the night of the N.Y.C. riots that 50 years ago saw the LGBTQ+ community rebelling against the prevailing conservatism winds that were—and still are in some regards—shaking the American stars and stripes. The torch of the testimony of the people who lived the uproar of those days is passed down to a new generation by featuring some prominent figures of today’s LGBTQ+ community, who lend their voices to the archival audio recordings of the veterans in a mirroring synesthesia.
By Tommaso Cartia
From the moment this film is on to the moment that it is out, something so visceral touches the profound strings of your heart’s nostalgia, and invades you. It is like re-watching family videos, the voices of our loved ones traversing time and coming back to remind us about their once untamable aliveness, that resilient attachment to the gift of life preserved against any toiling struggles. In Stonewall OutLoud, our family is the extended LGBTQ+ community, with its toiling struggles, and its voices that we can’t dare to put to oblivion.
Inspired by the audio-documentary Remembering Stonewall by Dave Isay, the movie, narrated by RuPaul, finds a vividly original way to vehicle the voices of the heroes of the uprising, shortening the physical and temporal distance by unleashing them out loud through some popular faces of the current LGBTQ+ scene. Like Actor, Comedian and Activist Daniel Franzese; Singer & Actor Lance Bass; Athlete Adam Rippon: RuPaul Drag Race Star Raja; and more, including Laith Ashley, Charlie Carver, Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, Fortune Feimster, Connor Franta, Isis King, Keiynan Lonsdale, Jinkx Monsoon, Ben J. Pierce, Michael Turchin, Amber Whittington
Each one of them revisits rare and priceless material that even America’s history books have shamefully neglected, preventing our kids to fully understand that the freedom of costumes they can experience today when they effortlessly parade during a Gay Pride, was nothing but a strenuous conquest that cost the lives of many. “I connected with the material instantly because it is so important,” said Actor Daniel Franzese, commenting about his role in the documentary. “A lot of our history as queer people is erased, we don’t have any of that in our American history books, anything about gay people growing up in this country. It was completely washed away. When I was approached for the project, I immediately said yes, because it got to me that at this point in my life, as an LGBTQ activist, actor and gay man, I should definitely know more about this stuff. These stories should be all learned and engrained in our consciences,” continued Franzese.
Emmys and GLAAD Media Award-winning directors Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey, the visionary minds behind WOW (World of Wonder) – the production that created masterpieces of contemporary LGBTQ+ entertainment beginning with RuPaul’s Drag Race – continue to wonder their audience, weaving together the fragmented history of the American gay community and leaving a profound trace in its legacy and in our conscience.
“The film was inspired by Dave Isay, the man behind StoryCorps, who 20 years after the Stonewall riots released the audio-documentary Remembering Stonewall,” says Barbato explaining the inception of the project: “We were approached by Youtube Originals to do a film about it and we asked ourselves, ‘How can we bring this back to life?’ Initially, we really didn’t know, it was difficult because there is