In its narration of the events that took place in Queens, NY from 1990-93, Julio of Jackson Heights provides materials for educators, students and activists interested in studying, researching and discussing a range of issues:
Queer activism in the 1990s – Queer Nation, which had formed just months before the murder of Julio Rivera in response to increasing violence against LGBTQ people in New York City, took a very active role in the movement for justice for Julio Rivera. A number of Queer Nation members discuss the murder and their response, as well as some of the tensions between the more seasoned radical activists and the just coming out LGBTQ community of Queens.
Public Education – The last part of the film puts a strong focus on the case of the Children of the Rainbow Curriculum, a curriculum that was aimed at teaching tolerance and included a section for teaching first graders about “different” family structure, including LGBTQ families. A key figure in the battle over the curriculum was Daniel Dromm a fourth grade school teacher in Queens who came out publicly during the protests and went on to found the Queens Pride Parade.
Pre-Stonewall gay life – In order to explain the context in which LGBTQ life in Queens became political, the film offers a portrait of gay life during the 1950s and 60s, and even into the 80s. Senior gay men discuss the importance of gay bars as a place of identity and camaraderie, as well as the regular police raids of those bars, the fear of being gay bashed and cruising.
Gay bashing – People interviewed in the film discuss gay bashing going back to the 1960s. Themes include the total lack of responsiveness and often antipathy by the police, the fear of most gay men to go public with being bashed, and the epidemic in bashing that was the late 80s / early 90s.
Visibility – A major theme of the film is visibility and members of the Queens community discuss the need to be public, to march. At various points in the film a number of people discuss the need “to show numbers” and in the case of the Queens Pride Parade, founder Daniel Dromm discusses the need to reframe the debate by making it clear that LGBTQ people are not just a bunch of gay men in the Village.
Other topics include family members, hustling, working-class gay life as represented by Julio who grew up in the South Bronx. Further, we are currently working on making more material available from the original interviews that go further in-depth on many of these topics. Please, feel free to contact us if you are looking for anything specific along these lines.