Gay Sex in the ’70s Review: In The Right Camp

July 2, 2010 by  
Filed under - Home, Film Reviews

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gaysex300GAY SEX IN THE ’70s (18): On Special Release Friday 2nd July

The history of homosexuality in the 20th century can be clearly divided into the pre and post-AIDS eras, with the impact of the disease being one of the greatest challenges the gay community has ever had to face, even when compared to the brutal oppression metered out when their sexual identity was still deemed illegal. Gay Sex in the ‘70s is both a celebration and lamentation of a decade that saw participants experience a period of unprecedented sexual liberation comparable to the wildest excesses of Rome before it was cruelly cut short by the ravaging effects of the pandemic. In the beginning, this re-imagined Eden was a crucial period of self-acceptance, partially aided by the prevailing public mood initiated – and later cemented – by the admirable work undertaken by the Stonewall movement which was, towards the end, forever tainted by scores of deaths. Ironically, it was this crisis that bonded the community together and which, as one commentator points out, provided a unique opportunity whereby the victims took control of their situation and implemented their own solutions.

Joseph F Lovett’s deeply personal portrait of New York as a playground for unbridled sexual exploration wonderfully incorporates the reflections and anecdotes of some of the world’s most notable gay artists and social commentators, all of whom have happy memories of a time as important to homosexuals as the Civil Rights movement was to Blacks in the 1960s. Essentially a collection of fragmented memories bookended by events dating from 1969 to 1981, illustrated by a roster of photographs and archived footage, Lovett’s film vividly captures the atmosphere of abandoned docks where men would frequent the piers and vacant warehouses in pursuit of multiple partners and an endless sequence of orgasms that would last for well over ten years. Amongst the happy recollections are the shocking revelations of accidental deaths incurred by falling through the rotting floorboards of abandoned buildings and the impressive irrepressible sexual appetites of some of those involved.

Whilst the film occasionally frustrates through repetition, there is enough material to retain the audiences’ interest and provide a moving account of a scene largely ignored by the ‘straight’ public, many of whom will be left feeling positively square when comparing their own exploits with those candidly baring all. Ending on jubilant scenes depicting the modern day Gay Pride Parade through the streets of New York, Gay Sex in the ‘70s is a testament to the strength and endurance of a tightly knit community united through adversity and determined in their ambition to be accepted with same degree of tolerance afforded to everyone else in society. As low-budget documentaries go, Gay Sex in the ‘70s is an undeniable success that will sadly be seen by too fewer people but will hopefully find a larger audience on the television which is probably its most natural home.

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