Forty years to the date after the historic Stonewall riots jump-started the modern GLBT rights movement in America another incident in a gay nightclub proved that our struggle for equality is never really over. Even today, just over six years after that police raid of a Fort Worth, Texas bar, and even with the recent landmark Supreme Court decision to legalize same sex marriage in the United States, we need to remember that now, more than ever, our fight is an ongoing one.
Robert L. Camina's enlightening, inspirational documentary Raid of the Rainbow Lounge (now available on DVD and VOD from TLA Video) shows that such a fight is well worth fighting. The June 28, 2009 raid of the then-newly opened Rainbow Lounge by members of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and the Fort Worth Police Department that resulted in several arrests of and injuries to the bar's patrons galvanized the city's GLBT community into action. Justifiably incensed that such a disturbing and violent assault could even occur, they wanted answers. And when local officials dragged their feet and added fuel to the fire by saying that the patrons' actions (such as "blowing kisses" and "fondling" officers) warranted such a show of police force, the gay community of Fort Worth rallied together and, through organized protests, witness support and pure sense of what was right, managed to (mostly) get the justice they sought.
What the Raid of the Rainbow Lounge (narrated by Family Ties actress and out lesbian Meredith Baxter) most interestingly reveals is the good and the bad that emerges following such a watershed event and how all involved, on both sides of the story, can be transformed. It's a credit to director Camina (whose next film, Upstairs Inferno, documents another far more violent night out at a gay bar) that Raid of the Rainbow Lounge may be looked back on as evidence of how best to deal with such a crisis, although one certainly hopes that that will never be necessary.
MD Rating: B+
Raid of the Rainbow Lounge is now available on DVD and VOD:
Review by Kirby Holt, creator and editor of Movie Dearest, The QuOD: The Queer Online Database and the Out Movie Guide.