The British Film Institute presents the best global cinema on-demand:
From classic and contemporary films to the best of the BFI National Archive.

Before Stonewall
Before Stonewall

Before Stonewall 1984


This film is certified

Please confirm that you accept our terms of use.


Before Stonewall 1984 15

83 mins USA Director. Greta Schiller

Conventional wisdom posits the beginning of the gay liberation movement from the riots at the Stonewall Inn in New York, however this film shows just how much activism and creativity had been going on before 1969. A dazzling line-up of interviewees includes poets, writers, political organisers, dancers and actors bear witness to a life before Stonewall, including Allen Ginsberg, Audre Lorde, Barbara Gittings, Harry Hay, Ann Bannon and many more. The courage and bravery of those who dared to challenge the world has helped create the modern gay community. This is also a work of extraordinary archival research, finding footage which showed the undeniable existence of gay men and lesbians throughout the 20th century. Essential viewing for anyone who wants to get a sense of our history.

Directed by

Greta Schiller


Rita Mae Brown

Audre Lorde

Barbara Gittings




Gay Cinema - Out of the Archive Flare LGBT Documentaries The Female Gaze









Production company

Before Stonewall

Read lessRead more

Explore further

View We Were Here
We Were Here

We Were Here 2011

We Were Here is the first documentary to take a deep and reflective look back at the arrival and impact of AIDS in 1980s San Francisco.

89 mins USA Director. David Weissman

View Les Invisibles
Les Invisibles

Les Invisibles 2012 15

French gay men and women in their 60s and 70s talk about their lives in Sébastien Lifshitz’s documentary.

112 mins France Director. Sébastien Lifshitz

View The Chocolate Acrobat
The Chocolate Acrobat
Watch from £0.85

The Chocolate Acrobat 1995

An elderly woman in a care home strikes up a sensual, nostalgic relationship with a young nurse.

37 mins United Kingdom Director. Tessa Sheridan


View All

Welcome to a new subscription service like no other.

>100s of hand-picked classics and critically-acclaimed films

>Critic Mark Kermode picks a must-see film every week

>No contract, cancel anytime

Cookies Policy

This website uses cookies, as explained in our Cookies Policy.

To accept the terms and hide this message please click 'I accept'.

I accept

Passionate about film? So are we…

Don't miss the email made for the in-the-know film fan:

New releases — on the same day as in cinemas Special collections & unheralded classics Exclusive news on discounts

Never ask | Ask me later