CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The GayCharlotte Fim Festival returns at the end of April and includes a North Carolina state premiere with the screening of “Raid of the Rainbow Lounge,” a documentary recounting a 2009 raid on a Fort Worth, Texas, gay bar that came on the 40th anniversary of the New York City police raids on the Stonewall Inn.
Director Robert L. Camina will be in town when his film screens at Theatre Charlotte on April 27 at 3 p.m. He’ll participate in a question-and-answer session following the screening.
“I’d always hoped the film would be used to inspire people to get involved because your voice does matter,” Camina says of his project.
On June 28, 2009, Fort Worth police and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission raided the Rainbow Lounge. The officials spent 40 minutes in the establishment and multiple people were detained or arrested. One young man was sent to the local hospital’s intensive care unit with a fractured skull and bleeding on the brain. Police were accused of brutality.
“I woke up Sunday morning and read on Facebook some incredibly detailed accounts of what people had gone through that night,” says Camina. “I was wiping the sleep away from my eyes trying to comprehend what was going on. It was incomprehensible. It was 2009. This stuff doesn’t happen.”
Camina chose rather quickly to begin documenting the unfolding controversy.
“Rallies were scheduled that afternoon and throughout the week,” he says. “I said, ‘I don’t know what’s going on, but I need to capture this on film.’”
In the wake of the raid, Camina said the city came together. “The community was incredibly angry,” he says. Activists with street protest group Queer LiberAction held several demonstrations and an advocacy group, Fairness Fort Worth, was established.
The two groups’ efforts combined — “the radical and the rational,” Camina says — were instrumental in reshaping how city and police officials in Fort Worth interacted with the LGBT community.
“While [the groups’] approaches were different, they both had to exist to accomplish what we were able to accomplish,” says Camina.
Following the outrage, city officials instituted mandatory diversity training for all city employees. They also revised their policies on bar investigations. Other changes were also made to expand the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance to include the transgender community and begin offering domestic partner benefits to city employees.
Camina says he’s proud his film has received so much positive attention. The response, he says, is partly based on the near-unbelieving reality that unfolded in Fort Worth.
“I think that’s what people thought, that in 2009 gay bar raids existed only deep into history books,” Camina says. “There wasn’t any indication that it could happen in Fort Worth.”
Camina’s film will be among eight other films screened during the festival, which is slated for April 25-28. Other films include “Going Down in La-La Land,” “The Skinny,” “Cloudburst” and “United in Anger,” a documentary on the history of the ACT UP protest movement.
For more information, including online ticket purchases, visit gaycharlottefilmseries.com. : :