Gay Sex In The 70s (2005)

DVD Cover (Wolfe Video)
Culture & Society, Gender Issues, Interpersonal Relationships, Sexuality, Social History
Joseph F. Lovett Joseph F. Lovett
Robert Alvarez Robert Alvarez
Alvin Baltrop Alvin Baltrop
Barton Benes Barton Benes
Tom Bianchi Tom Bianchi
Mel Cheren Mel Cheren

6.9 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by bluemeanie
Added: May 07, 2006
The highlight of the documentaries at Birmingham Shout! was a film that many thought went a little too far in depicting sexuality, “Gay Sex In the 70’s”. The title alone should be enough of a warning to those who don’t want the lifestyle thrown in their faces. The film deals with the New York City gay lifestyle during the end of the sixties, the seventies, and on into the AIDS epidemic, when that lifestyle was forever obliterated and changed. The documentary is fascinating and moving in the way it introduces us to people who lived through this period of time, who loved the lifestyle in those days – who would likely do it all over again, if given the choice. These are the homosexuals in America who truly serve as the forefathers of the movements and the gay rights agenda. They lived through the most unique and terrifying time for homosexuals…and survived.

As depicted in the film, New York was a homosexual’s dream come true. You could literally walk down Christopher Street and have sex as many time as you wanted to. Gays made love on the pier, in the trucks, and sometimes traveled out to the gay utopia known as Fire Island. The safe was rough, dirty, constant, and rarely safe. One man even talks of carrying ID at all times in case someone had to identify his body. This film shows New York as the kind of place that Rome might have resembled, with the bars and clubs and bath houses that have become infamous in gay culture. The film ends with the onslaught of the AIDS virus and the affect it had on the New York gay community. It completely stopped all of the fun and play of the gay lifestyle and turned it into fear and sickness and death. There is nothing even close to that existing in America today.

The moral of the story is probably that the kind of fun these men had cannot last forever. But, was it all fun? The way these men describe their lives during this period of time, it certainly does not sound romantic at all – drugs and orgies and pain and obsessions. It sounds very much like a nightmare in many respects. Most of these men were just addicted to sex, and nothing more. They were not consumed so much by the lifestyle and the culture as they were the need for more and more sex. They talk about the sexually transmitted diseases and how they still refused to use condoms, until AIDS hit and changed everything and made them think about all the times they could have prevented something like that. One man talks about attending a party full of people, all of whom he wanted to have sex with. His partner makes him leave, and so he does. He recounts that everyone that was in that room has since died of AIDS. Scenes like this show us how real the epidemic was to these men. Most of them lost all of their close friends. Most of them lose partners. Most of them have been turned into something difference because of it. “Gay Sex In the 70’s” is just as much a warning as it is an entertaining recount.

The film drags slightly at some points, but not for long enough that it would matter to most people. There is very graphic material in this film, and it is not recommended for anyone under the age of seventeen. This is not a film that all gay teens need to see to help with identity and acceptance – let them see “Be Real”. This is a film for homosexuals who are old enough to handle the material. I have heard so many stories from people about Christopher Street and Fire Island that I was smiling through most of this because I tried to imagine what life might have been like in 1975. I tried to imagine lying on a beach at Fire Island and watching all the guys pass by. Part of me wishes I had lived during that time, so I might have experienced some of the origins of gay culture as we currently know it. Then I think about the frivolity and the randomness of it all, and then I think about AIDS, and I thank God I was not born during this particular time. “Gay Sex In the 70’s” is absolutely fascinating and a true treat. I recommend it highly.

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