The LGBTQ Equality movement is often called the new civil rights movement, but how true is that claim? Are the two movements similar, or are they fundamentally different? Do they have the same goals? Why are they often in conflict with one another? A new documentary, "From Selma to Stonewall," explores these questions through the journey of two unlikely friends – Gil Caldwell, an 80-year-old black, straight retired preacher and civil rights leader, and Marilyn Bennet, a 52-year-old white lesbian activist and author.
Together the two visit important landmarks for both movements, such as Selma, Alabama – where Caldwell marched with Martin Luther King along with thousands of others – and the Stonewall Inn in New York City, a gay bar and the site of the historical 1969 Stonewall riots that is often referred to as the trigger for the LGBT liberation movement. The film documents Caldwell and Bennet's interviews with people at each of these landmarks, asking them about the intersection of race, sexual orientation, gender identity, and religion as well as where the civil rights and LGBTQ equality movements might find common ground. These interviews and stories were gathered from a wide range of people from civil rights and Stonewall veterans, activists of all stripes, people on the street, religious leaders, to scholars.
One such participant is Intersex Rights Advocate Eden Atwood. Check out the video below to watch Atwood tell her story as someone born with Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome and her powerful message of advocacy:
Along with their interactions with others, "From Selma to Stonewall" also documents the discussions Caldwell and Bennet have with each other asking one another personal questions that address the heart of what the film seeks to explore. The documentary's Kickstarter gives a sample of these questions discussed:
What did it mean to Gil that his last name was that of the plantation titleholders who owned his grandfather? What did it mean for Marilyn to have ancestors who supported the Confederacy? What was it like for him growing up in the safety of the black community and church in the time of Jim Crow laws? What was it like for her to grow up in a country and church that held her sexual orientation in contempt, where living genuinely left her open to felony charges?
And could we talk directly to each other about these different realities?
Archbishop Desmond Tutu commented on the power and importance of the film:
From Selma to Stonewall" raises critical issues and highlights the pivotal role that religion should play in ensuring equal rights and justice for all.
"From Selma to Stonewall" is currently seeking donations to finish production, and the pledge period ends soon! For more information, check out the project's Kickstarter video below and the website itself here.