The film of the Stonewall was rather taken during the time when gay rights have not been fully fought for yet; the times when gays and gay couples used to cover themselves behind walls and actually present themselves as mere entertainers; minorities of the society. It could be sensed then that in connection with the line of La Miranda saying “for sheer glamour of it all” at the beginning of the film, this scene specifically points out how the life of gays were in the past and how much this reputation they get from the society actually affect their personalities and their lifestyles. Considerably, it could be analyzed that this presentation of La Miranda stands out to be the representation that the film wants to impose on how cornered and controlled the lives of the gays were like as if they need to put up a cover just so to be able to mix in with the other members of the society. Working in a bar, La Miranda learned how to “live with what he is” and accept the fact that he will always be a minority, someone who will not be completely accepted within the society that he is trying to survive in.
Like the “gays” in the story, there are still other members of the society who remain unrecognized and are even controlled to not fully receive the worth of their rights as human individuals. This is the strength of the film; to be a mirror that serves a more defining condition that insists on how other members of the society are being oppressed like that of the homosexuals. This fact could be further related to Martin Manalansan’s written article on Examining Gay Transnational Politics. Herein, the said author described how gays were treated in a third world country like that of the Philippines where the term “bakla” is used to refer to gays. It was seemingly a degrading brand that noted how low the life of the gays were and how separated these groups of people were from the entire society. Liberalization has already caused western nations to try to accept the reality about the makeup of gays and how much their psychological condition affects their psychosocial connections. However, the difference of the lifestyle that third world countries like the Philippines live with in comparison with that of the majority of the western regions cause the separation of the process of recognizing both the legalities and the rights that the “gays” deserve to receive.
In this film, the existence of gays is expected to create a massive representation on how other members of the society are trying to struggle to be recognized as well. Nevertheless, instead of doing so, they try to cover up their strife and make a living out of what they could even though they know they could do more, if only the society would allow them to. The idea of putting on a lipstick and saying “for the sheer glamour of it all” represents how the minorities of the society become exploited for the sake of those who are oppressing them. Politicians tend to show that they are supporting the rights of these minorities [including gay members of the society] to simply get their sympathy, and later on when the campaigns and the voting season is over, the promises get left behind, just as the rights of these minorities become neglected.
John D’Emilio notes in his article that the story of the Stonewall riot [which was featured in the film] has become a talk of the town for a very long time. Around the globe, people criticized the situation while some other salutes the event. This event parted the light towards an assumed new role of gays in the society. D’Emilio wrote:
“As the 1960s ended, the homophile movement could accurately be described as a reform movement solidly implanted in the American liberal tradition. It had isolated a problem, the mistreatment of homosexuals, and identified the configuration of laws, policies, and beliefs that sustained a caste-like status for gay women and men. It proposed a solution: decriminalization of homosexual acts, equal treatment and equal rights under the law, and the dissemination of accurate, “unbiased” information about homosexuality.” (p. 4)
It seemed like as if the standing up of the gays against the pervasive indications of the law against their right became a milestone for all the members of the society who are being oppressed during the time. Their willingness to pursue what they think was right for them inspired others to redefine their identities in the society even amidst direct disregard from the society.
La Miranda’s reaction in the first scene of the film regarding the presentation of himself in front of the audience suggested a more refined façade that gays used to impose as part of their identity. However, no one can remain in an unrecognized identity and accept the oppression they receive from everyone else in the society. More than showing how closed the recognition for gays was during the time of the release of the film, it awakens the sense of both gays and other oppressed members of the society to stand for their own, get out from behind their masks and make a statement that as humans they too have rights that ought to be properly respected by everyone else.
D’Emilio, John “After Stonewall” in Queer Cultures, edited by Deborah Carlin and Jennifer DiGrazia, pp. 3-37. © 2003. Pearson.
Manalanasan, Martin “In The Shadows of Stonewall: Examining Gay Transnational Politics and Diasporic Dilemma” in Theorizing Diaspora, edited by Jana Evan Braziel and Anita Mannur. pp. 207-227. © 2003 Wiley-Blackwell.